Senior coalition MPs in Australia on Monday accused China of foreign interference after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s account on Chinese instant messaging platform WeChat was hijacked.
First reported by NewsCorp Australia, the WeChat account was reportedly renamed and Morrison faced accessibility problems.
The Prime Minister is now unable to access the account at all.
The account has been renamed as “Australian-Chinese New Life”, and the description is: “Providing living in Australia information for the Chinese community”, reports ABC News.
“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,” Liberal representative Gladys Liu was quoted as saying in the reports.
In China, Tencent-run WeChat has faced growing regulation for collecting more user data than deemed necessary when offering services.
Coalition MP and chair of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, James Paterson, said he believed the move was an act of foreign interference by the Chinese government.
“WeChat is owned by Tencent, which is one of the most closely controlled, theoretically private companies in China,” he told Sky News.
Federal Labour MP Mark Butler said the opposition was deeply concerned at the blocking on the Prime Minister’s account.
WeChat official accounts allow public figures, media companies and businesses to connect to more than 1.2 billion active users in mainland China.