Australia WeChat ban originates with ‘narrow nationalism’: observer

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/14 23:08:41

WeChat ban originates with ‘narrow nationalism’

"Narrow nationalism" motivated the Australian defense department's ban on WeChat, Chinese experts said Wednesday, warning that the decision could hurt Chinese people's feelings and further strain Sino-Australian relations.

In a move that highlighted growing concerns at Chinese espionage activities, Australia's Department of Defence has prohibited staff and serving personnel from downloading WeChat on their work phones, the Australia Financial Review reported on Sunday. Facebook was fine to use, the Sydney-based business and finance newspaper said.

The decision follows former defense head Dennis Richardson saying Chinese spies were "very active" in the country and Australia's top spy agency announcing in 2017 that it was "overwhelmed" by foreign espionage activities, the report said.

The Australian government's decision reflected "narrow nationalism," without any flexibility, Li Yi, a senior research fellow at the Internet Research Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Canberra was showcasing its strong desire to pander to US interests in the region by containing China, he said.

The Australian Defence Department is also phasing out use of Huawei and ZTE phones after US spy chiefs issued blunt security warnings about the companies' products, The Sydney Morning Herald reported last month.

Australia was "on the one hand demanding Beijing open up for US-backed services like Facebook, while on the other banning Chinese apps, for its own best interest," Yu Lei, a research fellow at the Oceania Research Center of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangdong Province, told the Global Times.

Canberra should stop damaging relations with Beijing before it was too late, he said.

There must be room for negotiation with Tencent and other Chinese internet service providers when it comes to addressing the alleged security concerns, Li said.

Li cited Apple and Amazon moving data servers to China, suggesting it was feasible for Tencent to follow suit for its overseas business.

Newspaper headline: WeChat ban originates with ‘narrow nationalism’


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