Monday, May 29

China accused of shutting down Australian PM’s WeChat account

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s WeChat network account has disappeared, prompting accusations of Chinese “interference” on Monday.

Morrison’s account on the Chinese social network was launched in February 2019, and has reportedly been replaced by another profile titled “New Australian Chinese Life.”

WeChat is the dominant social networking and messaging system in China, where Western services such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter are blocked.

Morrison did not address the issue, but a senator from his center-right Liberal Party accused Beijing of being behind the change.

“What the Chinese government did by closing the prime minister’s account is outside interference with our democracy,” Senator James Paterson told 2GB radio on Monday.

Peterson called on Australian politicians to boycott WeChat.

The information on the page indicates that the “Chinese Australian New Life” account was registered on October 28, 2021, but has messages dating back to February 1, 2019, including the first from Morrison: “I am very happy to open my official account on WeChat”.

AFP has contacted WeChat parent company Tencent for comment on the case.

Morrison launched his WeChat account to communicate with the Chinese-Australian community in his country ahead of the 2019 election.

In December 2020, WeChat removed a message from Morrison in which he defended an Australian investigation into alleged war crimes by Australian soldiers.

The message also criticized Chinese diplomatic spokesman Zhao Lijian, who tweeted a fake image of an Australian soldier holding a dagger.

mmc / arb / cwl / mtp / mas / zm