Chinese tech giant Tencent's WeChat blocks account of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

WION Web Team
Sydney, Australia Updated: Jan 24, 2022, 05:13 PM(IST)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Morrison's office lost access to the account on the platform, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd and claimed the move represented censorship

Popular Chinese messaging app WeChat blocked the account of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison amid diplomatic tensions between the two nations.

Morrison's office lost access to the account on the platform, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd and claimed the move represented censorship.

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“My view is given that WeChat is such a closely controlled company by the Chinese Communist Party, that this amounts to foreign interference in our democracy and in an election year no less,” said Senator James Paterson, chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

“What the Chinese government has done by shutting down an Australian account is foreign interference of Australian democracy in an election year,” Paterson said.

"Based on our information, this appears to be a dispute over account ownership, the account in question was originally registered by a PRC individual and was subsequently transferred to its current operator, a technology services company," a Tencent spokesman said.

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In Beijing, China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press conference on Monday that, "The issue of Australian politicians' WeChat accounts is between them and WeChat."

Morrison's account on the Chinese social media app, which was launched in February 2019, appears to have been replaced with one titled "Australian Chinese new life."

Its new Chinese owner, Fuzhou 985 Technology, said it wanted to buy an account with a large fanbase in Australia and was unaware it belonged to Morrison. The company is based in Fujian province.

The account, which bore Morrison's photograph and posted information on his policies in Mandarin targeted at Australian voters of Chinese ethnic origin, had 76,000 followers.

Morrison has had a vexed relationship with China since he replaced Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister in 2018.

The Chinese have been critical of a new partnership involving Australia, Britain and the United States announced in September under which Australia will be provided with nuclear-powered submarines.

(With inputs from agencies)

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