Update Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s WeChat account was taken over by entities who rebranded it as “Australian Chinese new life” and used the account to offer advice on life in Australia to the country’s Chinese community.
Morrison, leader of Australia’s centre-right Liberal Party, has used Tencent-owned WeChat as a campaign tool to reach Australia’s large Chinese community – many of whom are concentrated in particular seats and are therefore seen as a bloc desired election. .
Other members of the government have concluded that the takeover of the account must be the work of the Chinese authorities. Evidence for this claim, other than Beijing’s ability to lead Chinese companies, has not been provided.
But China doesn’t like Morrison, who has led international calls for an investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2. The Middle Kingdom then released a list of 14 demands it expected Australia to comply with, including rescinding a ban on Huawei, ceasing to accuse China of cyberattacks, reversal of a decision to bar a state government from participating in the Belt and Road. initiative, and refraining from any further comment on issues such as human rights or the legitimacy of China’s territorial claims.
China has also imposed tariffs on some Australian products.
The Australian government has ignored this list, and China has ignored Australia’s pleas to talk about its trade sanctions while occasionally firing in less than diplomatic language.
The news that Morrison’s WeChat account has been – ahem – redirected won’t help matters. Nor will it help him campaign in an election slated for May in which current polls predict the incumbents will struggle to hold on to government.
The register asked Tencent, owner and operator of WeChat, if he knew how and when the account changed hands. ®
Updated to add at 0730 UTC, January 24
Tencent was told it found “no evidence of hacking or third-party intrusion”.
“Based on our information, this appears to be a dispute over account ownership – the account in question was originally registered by someone in the PRC and was later transferred to its current operator, a technology services – and it will be processed in accordance with our Platform Rules.
“Tencent is committed to maintaining the integrity of our platform and the security of all user accounts, and we will continue to review this matter.”
This verbiage suggests that the Prime Minister could yet regain control of his account. We will keep an eye on the matter.