Friday, February 3, 2023

News report: WeChat account of Australian leader taken down

Canberra, Australia ( Associated Press) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s account on Chinese-owned social media platform WeChat has been taken down and renamed, a newspaper reported on Monday.

Morrison’s 76,000 WeChat followers were informed that her page had been renamed “Australian Chinese New Life” earlier this month. Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that the changes were made without the knowledge of the government.

Morrison’s office declined to comment on the report on Monday.

James Patterson, chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, accused the Chinese Communist Party of censoring the prime minister, with elections until May.

Patterson, who is a member of Morrison’s conservative Liberal Party, called on all lawmakers to boycott the platform, which is owned by Chinese technology giant Tencent.

“What the Chinese government has done by closing an Australian account is a foreign interference with Australian democracy in an election year,” Paterson told Sydney Radio on 2GB.

“No politician should be on WeChat and legitimize their censorship,” Paterson said.

Patterson said it was concerning that 1.2 million Chinese using the platform could not access news from the Australian prime minister, but could still see criticism of the government created by opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

Liberal Party legislator and former diplomat Dave Sharma said intervention by the Chinese government was likely to be approved.

Sharma said Morrison used WeChat to connect with Australia’s Chinese diaspora, but the platform was eventually controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

“It is more likely that it was sanctioned by the state and it reflects the attitude towards freedom of expression and freedom of expression emanating from Beijing,” Sharma told Sky News television.

Morrison has had a strained relationship with China since replacing Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister in 2018.

China has been critical of a new partnership between Australia, Britain and the United States announced in September to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

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Nation World News Desk
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