WeChat denies Australian PM’s account was hacked

Chinese tech giant Tencent , owner of the WeChat social network , denied on Monday that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s account had been hacked. The disappearance of the WeChat account caused controversy in Australia , with accusations that the Chinese government was responsible.

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“Based on the information we have, it appears that this is an account ownership dispute: the account in question was originally registered by an individual from the People’s Republic of China and was subsequently transferred to its current operator, a technology services,” a Tencent spokesman said.

Morrison’s WeChat account, activated in February 2019, appears to have been replaced with one titled “Australian Chinese new life.” The name was registered by Fuzhou 985 Technology Co, Ltd. on October 28, 2021. However, the account has posts dating back to February 1, 2019, including Morrison’s first, which read: “I am very happy to open my official WeChat account”.

Although Morrison did not comment, a senator from his ruling center-right Liberal Party accused Beijing of being behind the change. “What the Chinese government has done by closing the prime minister’s account is effectively foreign interference in our democracy,” James Paterson told 2GB radio on Monday.

Paterson called on Australian politicians to boycott WeChat in response. In December 2020, WeChat removed a post by Morrison that was critical of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.