Lithuanians urged to throw away Chinese mobile phones over censorship concerns

DHARAMSALA, 22 Sept: Lithuania’s Defence Ministry has advised its citizens to avoid buying and using Chinese mobile phones after it was found that the devices had built-in censorship capabilities.

“Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible,” Reuters quoted  Lithuania’s deputy minister of defence Margiris Abukevicius as saying.

According to the report, Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body has stated on Tuesday that “Flagship phones sold in Europe by China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as “free Tibet”, “long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement”, 

Though “the capability in Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the European Union region,” the ministry’s national cybersecurity centre has stated in its report that it “can be turned on remotely at any time.”

According to the ministry’s findings “there are 449 terms which could be censored by Xiaomi phones,”  and that the “list is continuously updated,” that gives Xiaomi a free hand in adding or removing terms to censor on a regular basis.

A security flaw has also been found in the P40 5G phone by China’s Huawei.

The development came amid rising diplomatic tension between China and Lithuania.

Last month, Lithuania agreed to rename Taiwan’s new mission in Vilnius, the capital city as ‘Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania’ rather than ‘Chinese Taipei’ much to the dismay of Beijing.

Reacting furiously over Lithuania’s decision to allow Taiwan to open a diplomatic office in the country, China recalled its ambassador from the baltic country and forced Lithuania to recall its Beijing envoy. Besides, China then halted its trade with Lithuania by suspending rail freight, export permits for the country’s producers, including from the agriculture, animal husbandry, and timber industries.  

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