Lithuania’s Defense Ministry recommended that consumers avoid buying Chinese mobile phones and advised people to throw away the ones they have now after a government report found the devices had built-in censorship capabilities.
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,” Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday. 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, the Defense Ministry’s National Cyber Security Center said in the report.
Relations between Lithuania and China have soured recently. China demanded last month that Lithuania withdraw its ambassador in Beijing 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 city Taipei, avoiding a reference to the island itself, which China claims as its own territory. U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to Lithuania’s prime minister Ingrida Simonyte last week and stressed support for her country in the face of pressure from China.