Foreign Interference Ruled out in Australian PM’s WeChat Saga: Home Affairs

Home Affairs officials have said there is no evidence supporting claims that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s WeChat account was hacked or subject to foreign interference. Senator Kristina Keneally, Australian Labor Party (ALP)’s home affairs spokeswoman who sought a departmental briefing over Morrison’s WeChat account, told the Labor caucus on Monday that there was no evidence of hacking or foreign interference in the Prime Minister’s recent saga of WeChat, a Chinese social media platform popular among Chinese communities. Morrison’s official WeChat account, which had around 76,000 followers, was hijacked and rebranded as a lifestyle page last month. The channel’s name was changed from “Scott Morrison” to “Australian Chinese New Lifestyle.” His photo was changed as well. It was later revealed that the account was “sold” to a Chinese businessman, who was part of the agency hired by the prime minister’s office to run his WeChat account—a practice common among politicians and organisations keen to communicate with Chinese-speaking communities in China or overseas. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks about his management of the pandemic at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia, on Feb. 1, 2022. (Rohan Thomson/Getty Images) The incident triggered Liberal politicians’ accusations of “foreign interference” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during an election year for Australia and a call to boycott the Chinese social media app. “What the Chinese government has done by shutting down an Australian account is foreign interference of Australian democracy in an election year,” Liberal Sen. James Paterson, chair of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, told 2GB radio on Jan. 24. “It is very clearly government action in my view. No politician should be on WeChat and legitimising their censorship.” Gladys Liu, the member for Chisholm, called the incident “deeply disappointing.” “It is a matter of record that the platform has stopped the prime minister’s access, while (Opposition leader) Anthony Albanese’s account is still active featuring posts criticising the government,” Liu said in a press release on Jan. 24. “In an election year especially, this sort of interference in our political processes is unacceptable, and this matter should be taken extremely seriously by all Australian politicians.” Liberal MP Gladys Liu in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Nov. 25, 2019. (Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images) ALP leader Albanese told 2GB earlier that he would welcome a discussion with Prime Minister Morrison on the issue. “I’m certainly of real concern about any national security implications by any interference by any government in the process, but I do note we haven’t heard anything from the prime minister himself about these issues,” he said. Home Affairs Department told Keneally that the department did not intend to provide further advice to MPs about being cautious on WeChat. WeChat’s parent company Tencent has denied any “hacking or third-party intrusion” occurred regarding the prime minister’s account, saying that it was an ownership dispute. Daniel Teng contributed to this report. Follow

Foreign Interference Ruled out in Australian PM’s WeChat Saga: Home Affairs

Home Affairs officials have said there is no evidence supporting claims that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s WeChat account was hacked or subject to foreign interference.

Senator Kristina Keneally, Australian Labor Party (ALP)’s home affairs spokeswoman who sought a departmental briefing over Morrison’s WeChat account, told the Labor caucus on Monday that there was no evidence of hacking or foreign interference in the Prime Minister’s recent saga of WeChat, a Chinese social media platform popular among Chinese communities.

Morrison’s official WeChat account, which had around 76,000 followers, was hijacked and rebranded as a lifestyle page last month. The channel’s name was changed from “Scott Morrison” to “Australian Chinese New Lifestyle.” His photo was changed as well.

It was later revealed that the account was “sold” to a Chinese businessman, who was part of the agency hired by the prime minister’s office to run his WeChat account—a practice common among politicians and organisations keen to communicate with Chinese-speaking communities in China or overseas.

Epoch Times Photo
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks about his management of the pandemic at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia, on Feb. 1, 2022. (Rohan Thomson/Getty Images)

The incident triggered Liberal politicians’ accusations of “foreign interference” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during an election year for Australia and a call to boycott the Chinese social media app.

“What the Chinese government has done by shutting down an Australian account is foreign interference of Australian democracy in an election year,” Liberal Sen. James Paterson, chair of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, told 2GB radio on Jan. 24.

“It is very clearly government action in my view. No politician should be on WeChat and legitimising their censorship.”

Gladys Liu, the member for Chisholm, called the incident “deeply disappointing.”

“It is a matter of record that the platform has stopped the prime minister’s access, while (Opposition leader) Anthony Albanese’s account is still active featuring posts criticising the government,” Liu said in a press release on Jan. 24.

“In an election year especially, this sort of interference in our political processes is unacceptable, and this matter should be taken extremely seriously by all Australian politicians.”

Epoch Times Photo
Liberal MP Gladys Liu in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on Nov. 25, 2019. (Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

ALP leader Albanese told 2GB earlier that he would welcome a discussion with Prime Minister Morrison on the issue.

“I’m certainly of real concern about any national security implications by any interference by any government in the process, but I do note we haven’t heard anything from the prime minister himself about these issues,” he said.

Home Affairs Department told Keneally that the department did not intend to provide further advice to MPs about being cautious on WeChat.

WeChat’s parent company Tencent has denied any “hacking or third-party intrusion” occurred regarding the prime minister’s account, saying that it was an ownership dispute.

Daniel Teng contributed to this report.


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