Germany Probes Multiple China-Made Smartphone Types Over Security Concerns

Germany Probes Multiple China-Made Smartphone Types Over Security Concerns
A Xiaomi smartphone is displayed in a shop in Beijing on May 2. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)
Frank Yue

A German regulator said it was launching a security investigation into certain Chinese-made smartphones after Lithuania warned of built-in censorship and surveillance capabilities.

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur that a probe into a number of Chinese cellphones was underway, targeting the Huawei P40 5G, Xiaomi Mi 10T 5G, and OnePlus 8T 5G. The office is under the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building, and Community.

The German intervention comes after EU member Lithuania warned its citizens to stay away from Chinese cellphones.

“Our recommendation is not to buy any new Chinese phones and get rid of the ones you have already bought as soon as possible,” said Lithuania’s Deputy Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius on Sept. 21. His advice drew on a report that tested 5G mobile phones from Chinese manufacturers, released by the National Cyber ​​Security Center.

The 32-page report detailed security risks, including personal data leakage, pre-installed apps, and restrictions on freedom of expression. The security shortcomings were found in 5G smartphones made by Chinese tech giants Huawei and Xiaomi.

Xiaomi Corp said on Sept. 27 that it disputed the report and was engaging a third-party expert to assess the points raised.

One expert said that security risks are intentional.

National Taiwan University (NTU) Professor Tsung-Nan Lin said that Huawei is “the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) agent of influence,” in an interview with The Epoch Times on Sept. 27.

“The primary role of Huawei is not a purely private company,” he said. “It’s a firm with close ties to the CCP military, an affiliate of the Chinese government.”

Lin works for NTU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Graduate Institute of Communication Engineering, with a focus on cybersecurity.

Lin confirmed that all Chinese smartphones should be placed under general suspicion. He said it would pose a huge national security risk once a large number of consumers’ privacy information was leaked.

“Under domestic law, all Chinese businesses have to report to the Chinese authorities,” Lin said. He warned that personal information leaks could lead to extradition to China in certain cases. If users displease Beijing and live in a country or region that has an extradition treaty with China, they could find themselves sent away to face trial.

“There’s a possibility that China-made communications devices might pose a threat to the security of other end-user nations. So, they might leave a hidden back-door for the state to meet its needs.”

With the extensive use of technological power, the CCP could rein in its more-than-one-billion people and rival the United States for global hegemony in the 21st century, Lin added.

Luo Ya contributed to this report.
Frank Yue is a Canada-based journalist for The Epoch Times who covers China-related news. He also holds an M.A. in English language and literature from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, China.
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