Lithuania to ban ‘unreliable’ phones amid Chinese censorship

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The Lithuanian Defense Ministry is drafting a law prohibiting public institutions from purchasing “unreliable” equipment after discovering a censorship function in the flagship phone of a Chinese smartphone company, according to an official.

The new statement was made by Margiris Abukevicius, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Defense.

Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone’s software censorship capability has been disabled for the “European Union region” but can be activated remotely at any time, the country’s National Cyber ​​Security Center said in a report on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Xiaomi said in a statement sent to Reuters on Wednesday that its device “does not censor communications to or from its users.”

The Defense Ministry plans to present the bill to parliament for debate by the end of this year, Abukevicius told Reuters.

“It is pretty obvious that the consequences of the legislation would be similar to those of previous legislation on 5G equipment,” he said.

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei protested in May when the Lithuanian parliament ruled that only equipment approved by the government for national security reasons could be used for the country’s next-generation 5G network.

“It is not news that Lithuania has taken the political decision to cooperate in the technological field with the NATO and EU countries, which are democratic and have the rule of law,” said Abukevicius.

The National Cyber ​​Security Center report indicated that terms potentially subject to censorship by system applications on the Xiaomi phone, such as the default Internet browser, included “Free Tibet”, “Long live Taiwan independence” and “The democratic movement”.

Xiaomi Corp shares fell nearly 5% to HK $ 21.95 on Wednesday, their biggest daily percentage drop since July 27.

China last month demanded that Lithuania withdraw its ambassador to Beijing and recalled its envoy to Vilnius after Taiwan announced that its mission in Lithuania would be called the Taiwan Representative Office.

Taiwanese missions in Europe and the United States use the name of the city of Taipei, avoiding a reference to the island itself, which China claims as its own territory.

US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan last week underlined his support for Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte in the face of pressure from China.


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