It is widely known that Prime Minister Morrison registered a public WeChat account and has frequently posted about new Australian policies.
The account has accumulated 76,000 followers and frequently posted updates about the latest official news, many of these relevant to members of Australia’s Chinese community.
From: ABC News
However last year the account was inactive for a long period of time and in July the account name changed to “Australian Chinese New Life”. Although some previous Chinese language posts from Morrison’s office were still visible.
From: SMH News
After Australian media became aware of this fact, they immediately started to follow and report upon it. In the past few days, news about the issue of the takeover of Morrison’s public WeChat account has frequently made headlines.
Recently there has been news that the new owner of Morrison’s WeChat account may close it down.
During a foreign affairs press conference on January 24th, a reporter asked about the matter of the Australian Prime Minister’s account being allegedly hacked. Some Australian MPs believe that this is interference from the Chinese government. But what is the response from the Chinese government?
Lijian Zhao “I am not aware of this matter concerning the public WeChat account of Morrison. I suggest you directly enquire about this matter with the Australian Prime Minister and his WeChat publicity team. The accusation of Chinese interference is nothing but pure slander and is purely groundless. We never have, nor have had any interest in, interfering in the affairs of other countries”
In fact, any sensible person would not lay the blame for this matter on Tencent or WeChat, but would ask why did Morrison use a Chinese person’s name to register his account? He could have used an overseas company to register instead.
The Daily Telegraph reported that due to certain restrictions on overseas WeChat users, Morrison’s account was operated through a Chinese organization that would post various government announcements on a weekly basis.
Government sources reported that since July 2021 the organization was unable to log into the account and that the organization contacted WeChat administration on several occasions to resolve the matter, but all with no results.
Tencent, the $US20 billion company that owns WeChat. CREDIT:BLOOMBERG
According to WeChat regulations selling accounts is against company rules, even though in China this frequently occurs.
Tencent’s spokesperson explained that Prime Minister Morrison’s account wasn’t hacked, and according to their understanding this matter appears to be a conflict over account ownership rights.
Tencent stated “This account was originally registered by a Chinese national, afterward it was transferred to the current operator, a technology service provider.”
“We will resolve this matter according to relevant company policy”.
January 10, 2022, Morrison’s WeChat publicity team once again applied for the return of Morrison’s account, but they have yet to receive any response.
From: ABC News
Government sources have stressed that Morrison will continue to directly communicate with the Chinese community in Australia through emails, Chinese newspapers, and other social media platforms.
The Daily Telegram reports that Labour’s party leader, Anthony Albanese, is still able to share updates with his WeChat followers, including attacks on “Morrison’s lies” in relation to recent foreign policy, and also sharing an article showing support for free rapid antigen tests.
Peter Jennings from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute stated that the deletion of Morrison's public account during an Australian election year can be considered as a form of external interference and should be considered a very serious matter.
From: ABC News
Jennings also stated that this was unlikely to be the act of an unauthorized hacker, since WeChat has ignored the requests of the government to reinstate the government’s ownership of the account
“This was a very brazen act, which was clearly done to attract the attention of those 76,000 fans, we should consider this to be provocative behavior.
What we can learn from this is that every overseas Chinese person should never use their own personal Wechat public account, no matter if their own company operates the public WeChat account, or they have an agent to administer it.
Individuals overseas can only open WeChat service accounts.
So, what materials does an overseas business need to prepare to register a public WeChat account?
1. Enterprise registration certificate
2. Details of the account contact person (Either the corporation or an employee) for example a photo of a business card.
3. Records of the phone account for the last three months of the account contact person.
4. Account contact person’s ID (A photo of front and back of a Passport or ID card).
For further information or enquiries please contact us.
Now don’t lose any time in checking up on your WeChat public account’s current status!