U.S. think tanks and China experts worry that WeChat is a sort of Trojan Horse to the West as the app—censored according to Beijing standards—could be used to influence Western politics abroad.
The Chinese messaging app WeChat has become a major platform for political discussions among overseas Chinese, as well as a tool for Western politicians.
WeChat, developed by Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings Limited, has rapidly expanded overseas as more Chinese expats are using the app for communication.
Specifically, WeChat is a communication vehicle between Western elected officials and political candidates and voters of Chinese descent.
But its prevalence means far more than just another competitor in the social media market: it is enabling the Chinese-lization, or rather, Communist-ization of local communities and could nudge local politics toward alignment with the goals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The CCP controls political views, news flow, and permitted discourse on WeChat to benefit pro-CCP political parties and politicians.
On the other hand, some Western politicians choose to self-censer using the CCP’s criteria on WeChat in order to reach and appeal to Chinese voter.
What’s worse, the politicians who stand up against the CCP’s policies are being gagged on WeChat with their postings removed or their account closed.
In this way, WeChat stands apart from all other social media apps in the West.
Suppression of House Candidate in North Carolina
“I’ve seen WeChat deleting articles from my public WeChat account, and locking and then unlocking my personal account.” 2016 North Carolina Congressional candidate Sue Googe told the Epoch Times.
Born in China’s southern Hainan Province, Googe immigrated to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 2010. She is a programmer, real estate agent, and had never worked in politics.
As a Republican, Googe was running for office in North Carolina’s 4th District. Where Asian-Americans account for 5 percent of the population, with 1 percent being those of Chinese descent.
Googe said it takes incredible effort to win over the 1 percent. “(In any other ethnic communities) I’d just need to speak my mind and I’ll gain approval,” she said. “But it’s the hardest in the Chinese community.”
Googe began using WeChat in 2014 to introduce her political viewpoints to the Chinese in her community.
She once had several WeChat supporter groups that contained over a thousand people.
What she didn’t expect was that WeChat “brought her enemies along with friends.”
The turning point for Googe was in March 2016 after she questioned the Chinese Embassy’s infiltration of local Chinese commerce and social associations in her WeChat post.
Some WeChat members began to spread her post, and she was subsequently labeled and accused as “anti-China” by other Chinese users.
In some cases, she was even verbally assaulted
Googe told the Epoch Times that during the 2016 election, some articles were removed from her public accounts, and her personal account was temporarily closed by WeChat.
WeChat uses human inspection, user reports and other methods to censors sensitive content and close accounts.
Such censorship is neither transparent, nor following consistent principles.
“We created content policies for individuals and organizations who use our platform,” Tencent, the parent company of WeChat, stated in an official response.
“As part of the inspection, we will close or suspend accounts that post contents with hatred, erroneous information, inappropriate content, or any other content banned on our platform.”
It is said that accounts may be automatically reactivated after the poster deletes content that WeChat considers inappropriate. However, accounts that regularly post sensitive contents would be frozen or permanently removed.
Source: Epoch Times