China’s WeChat blocks Australian PM in doctored image dispute

Tencent WeChat

The WeChat platform blocked a message from Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison amid an ongoing dispute between Canberra and Beijing within the doctored tweeted image of an Australian soldier.

China rebuffed Morrison’s calls for an apology after its foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted the picture of an Australian soldier carrying a bloodied knife into the throat of an Afghan child on Monday.

The United States called China’s utilization of the digitally manipulated picture a “new low” in disinformation.

In his opinion, Morrison defended Australia’s handling of a war crimes investigation into the actions of particular forces in Afghanistan, also said Australia would deal with “thorny issues” in a clear manner.

However, that message appeared to be blocked by Wednesday evening, with a notice appearing from the “Weixin Official Accounts Platform Operation Center” saying the content was not able to be seen because it violated regulations, including distorting historic events and confusing the public.

Tencent, the parent firm of WeChat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Australian special forces supposedly killed 39 unarmed prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan, with senior commandos allegedly forcing junior soldiers to kill defenceless captives in order to “blood” them for battle, a four-year investigation discovered.

Australia said last week that 19 present and former soldiers would be known for potential criminal prosecution.

China’s embassy has said the “rage and roar” from Australian politicians and media over the soldier image has been an overreaction.

‘HYPOCRISY IS OBVIOUS TO ALL’

Other nations, including the United States, New Zealand and France – and the self-ruled island of Taiwan that China claims as its own – have expressed concern in the Chinese foreign ministry’s usage of the manipulated picture on a official Twitter accounts.

“The CCP’s latest attack on Australia is another example of its unchecked use of disinformation and coercive diplomacy. Its hypocrisy is obvious to all,” the US State Department said on Wednesday, speaking to the Chinese Communist Party.

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Jake Sullivan, tapped as national security adviser in the incoming government of US President-elect Joe Biden, tweeted support for Australia without reference to China.

France’s foreign affairs spokesman said on Tuesday the tweeted image was “especially shocking” along with the remarks from Zhao “insulting for all countries whose armed forces are currently engaged in Afghanistan”.

China’s embassy in Paris hit on Wednesday, stating the soldier image proved to be a caricature, adding that France has previously loudly defended the right to caricature.

It was an apparent reference to France’s row with the Muslim world over its own defence of the book of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

WeChat has 690,000 busy daily users in Australia, also in September advised an Australian government inquiry it might prevent foreign interference in Australian public debate through its own platform.

Morrison’s message was read by 57,000 WeChat users by Wednesday.

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Zhao’s tweet, immobilized to the top of his Twitter accounts, had been “liked” by 60,000 followers after Twitter tagged it as sensitive content but diminished Canberra’s petition to eliminate the image.

Twitter is blocked in China, but has been used by Chinese diplomats.

China on Friday imposed dumping tariffs of around 200% on Australian wine imports, effectively shutting the largest export market for the Australian wine market.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Jonathan Landay. Editing by Steve Orlofsky.

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