Lithuania finds Xiaomi phones have built-in censorship capabilities, advices avoiding Chinese devices

A Xiaomi Mi 5G smartphone. (Photo courtesy: Bloomberg)

(, Sep22’21) – Lithuania’s Defense Ministry has recommended that consumers avoid buying or using Chinese mobile phones after it found that Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone had built-in censorship capabilities, reported Reuters Sep 22.

Flagship phones sold in Europe by China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as “Free Tibet”, “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement”, the report said, citing Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body.

The capability in Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the “European Union region”, but can be turned on remotely at any time, it cited the Defence Ministry’s National Cyber Security Centre as saying.

Its report was also cited as saying the list of terms which could be censored by the Xiaomi phone’s system apps, including the default internet browser, currently includes 449 terms in Chinese and was being continuously updated.

“Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible,” Defence Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius was quoted as telling reporters while introducing the report.

The National Cyber Centre’s report has also said the Xiaomi phone was sending encrypted phone usage data to a server in Singapore.

A security flaw was also stated to have been found in the P40 5G phone by China’s Huawei, but none was found in the phone of another Chinese maker, OnePlus.

Relations between Lithuania and China have been strained in recent times especially over the issue of Taiwan. Last month Beijing demanded that Lithuania withdraw its ambassador to China and said it would recall its envoy to Vilnius after Taiwan announced that its mission in Lithuania would be called the Taiwanese Representative Office.

Taiwanese missions in Europe and the United States use the name of the capital city Taipei, avoiding a reference to the island itself, which China objects to, claiming the democratically self-ruled de facto country is its territory.


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