Xiaomi might not have an official presence in several countries but the Chinese company normally would not prevent a user from importing its devices to a region that is not officially supported.
This, however, might now be a thing of the past if you reside in Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan or Crimea.
Xiaomi, according to reports published by XDA Developers, are now actively blocking their smartphones in the regions specified above.
It is worth noting that Xiaomi does indeed prohibit the sale of its handsets in these regions in accordance with their export policy, but there is no mention of Xiaomi phones being shut down if you import them to the said regions.
‘14.2 The Contract and all Products sold are subject to applicable export control laws, including but not limited to the export control laws of. the US and Buyer’s own jurisdiction. The Buyer will not export any product purchased from the Seller to any country or territory or anywhere if the export control laws forbid it. Prohibited countries and territories include Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, and the Crimea region. If the Buyer plans to export any Products purchased from the Seller to another country, the Buyer you must obtain the required export licenses (or other government approvals) before doing so.’
The reports suggest that after a few days of use, users in these regions are locked out of their phones, and the following message is displayed on their screen:
‘Xiaomi policy does not permit sale or provision of the product to the territory in which you have attempted to activate it. Please contact the retailers directly for additional information.’
Xiaomi’s response to locking out users
Xiaomi, in a reply to the reports, provided a statement to the Global Times, that the locking of its smartphones is not targeting any specific market, and it is cross-regional governance that aims to prevent smuggling through the grey market and to protect user data.
Various media outlets already attribute Xiaomi’s move to lock its handsets to the United States’ “long-arm” jurisdiction, speculating that Washington is exerting pressure on the Chinese company to block phones used in those sanctioned countries and regions.
In response, Xiaomi said that it “temporarily” locked some smartphones to prevent and investigate potential smuggling that hurt users’ information security and consumers’ rights. “The investigation has achieved significant results, and the affected devices can be unlocked now,” Xiaomi’s spokesperson said.
Whether this is a move initiated by Xiaomi, or are precautions being put in place to avoid clashing with the US government as Huawei did in the past, is something we will never know and furthermore, even Apple is not blocked in Syria, further causing confusion as to what Xiaomi’s motivations are.
What is interesting, however, is that the blocking issue does not affect users who have installed a custom ROM on their Xiaomi device.