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Lithuania says throw away Chinese phones due to censorship concerns

After a government report revealed that Chinese mobile phones had built-in censorship capabilities, Lithuania's Defense Ministry advised people to avoid purchasing Chinese mobile phones and to throw away the ones they already own.

"Free Tibet," "Long live Taiwan independence," and "democracy movement" are among the terms that can be detected and censored by Xiaomi's flagship phones sold in Europe, according to Lithuania's state-run cybersecurity agency, which released the information on Tuesday.

The National Cyber Security Center of the Defense Ministry stated in a report that the capability in Xiaomi's Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the "European Union region," but that it could be turned back on remotely at any time in the future.

"Our recommendation is to refrain from purchasing new Chinese phones and to dispose of those that have already been purchased as quickly as reasonably possible," Deputy Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius said in a press conference after introducing the study.

Reuters reached out to Xiaomi for comment, but did not receive a response.

The relationship between Lithuania and China has recently deteriorated. The Chinese government demanded last month that Lithuania withdraw its ambassador from Beijing and announced that it would recall its envoy to Vilnius in response to Taiwan's announcement that its mission in Lithuania would be known as the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.

Taipei is the name of the city used by Taiwanese diplomatic missions in Europe and the United States to avoid making a reference to the island itself, which China claims as its own territory.

President Joe Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, spoke with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte last week, emphasizing the United States' support for her country in the face of mounting pressure from Beijing.

Additionally, according to the National Cyber Center's report, the Xiaomi phone was transmitting encrypted phone usage data to a server in Singapore. According to the report, a security flaw was discovered in the Huawei P40 5G phone, but no flaw was discovered in the phone made by another Chinese manufacturer, OnePlus.

According to the BNS news wire, Huawei's representative in the Baltics has stated that its phones do not transmit user data to third parties.

This is according to a report, which states that the list of terms that could be censored by the Xiaomi phone's system apps, including the default internet browser, contains 449 terms in Chinese and is constantly being updated.

This is important not only for Lithuania, but for all countries that use Xiaomi equipment, according to a report published by the research center.

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