The WeChat account of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been bought by a Chinese company. The account holder rejects allegations of political interference.
The WeChat account run on behalf of Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison to speak to Chinese-Australian voters is now managed by a Chinese company providing tips for living in Australia. The businessman said he didn’t know who Scott Morrison was and bought the account to have followers.
News Corp Australia first reported that the WeChat account of the politician has been renamed and its description changed.
The account name is now Australian-Chinese New Life and provides tips for the Chinese community who settles in Australia. Scott Morrison’s former WeChat account has 76,000 followers.
Some Australian politicians accused China of political interference.
Huang Aipeng, the chief executive of Fuzhou 985 Information Technology who bought the account, said he didn’t know who Scott Morrison was and refused political interference allegations. He planned on deleting former political messages.
WeChat is owned by the Chinese giant Tencent and has tight censorship rules.
Several Australian politicians have an account on the Chinese-speaking messaging platform to speak to the large community of Chinese-Australian voters.
But WeChat doesn’t let foreign nationals to operate national accounts and the prime minister opened his account through a Chinese agency in 2019 to circumvent the company’s policy according to ABC.
A Chinese was then the account operator, delivering political messages to the followers.
But the account operator sold the account. Technically, Scott Morrison may not actually be considered as the owner of the account. As a consequence, Tencent considered this was a mere dispute over account ownership but rejected any hijacking.
Selling an account is rather common in China in spite of being against WeChat’s policy.
And according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the account owner said he would likely cancel the account.