Australia: Scott Morrison’s WeChat account has been taken down
The removal of the account was first confirmed Monday by James Paterson, chairman of Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. He said in interviews with Australian media that Morrison’s account on the platform had been “taken over and rebranded.”
“His account’s been hacked,” Paterson told the radio network 4BC on Monday, adding that Morrison’s account on the platform now redirects to one called “Australian Chinese New Life.” Paterson and Morrison are both members of the Liberal Party.
Morrison had 76,000 followers on his WeChat account, which he used to communicate with Chinese Australians.
During another interview with Sky News Australia, Paterson said the government started having difficulty posting to Morrison’s account in mid-2021.
“The government has directly appealed to WeChat to ask them to restore access,” he said, adding that “no response has been given to the government.”
Paterson suggested that the removal of Morrison’s account could be connected to tensions between China and Australia. He speculated during one local interview on Monday that the timing could have been related to the prime minister’s discussions with world leaders at last year’s G7 summit “about the dangers of becoming overexposed to China and having leverage of China over you.”
Asked about the account during a regular press conference in Beijing on Monday, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry of Affairs called it an “issue between Morrison and WeChat,” and declined to comment further.
At that time, Tencent emphasized that the international version of WeChat is separate from the Chinese app, which is also known as Weixin, and its website said that Tencent uses data “in strict accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”