The Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs says it believes Chinese agents used WeChat to meddle in the 2021 federal campaign, according to a Blacklock’s Reporter report.
WeChat is owned by a Shenzhen conglomerate.
“China shows growing sophistication in carrying out online information campaigns to influence audiences in Canada,” said a June 12 department memo for the deputy foreign minister.
China Communist Party agents were “successful in targeting mainland Chinese and diaspora audiences through China-based platforms like WeChat,” it said.
The memo said in the 2021 election the department “observed unusual account activity on WeChat that constitutes disinformation and attempts by various parties to influence votes in ridings.”
But it took no action since WeChat is owned by Tencent Holdings Limited, a media corporation headquartered in Shenzhen, China.
Canadian election monitors were “not able to fully attribute this activity to a foreign government due to the nature of the WeChat platform,” said the memo.
“WeChat maker Tencent does not provide disclosure to the public on when it discovers or suspects an incident of foreign interference.”
Disclosure of the memo follows Canadian parliament House affairs testimony by Rob Stewart, who was among federal monitors mandated to watch for election interference in 2021.
“There are many people in Canada who are on an ongoing basis being targeted by foreign interference and it was not my job to inform them,” Stewart testified last Oct. 19.
“There are processes and ways of doing so. In this instance, I was not tracking what other people were doing.”
Stewart said in 2021 he was warned by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that Chinese agents using WeChat were targeting Conservative MP Michael Chong.
Chong was never told.“It was not interpreted to be our job to determine whether there is a threat to an election in a specific riding,” said Stewart.
“We were informed of questionable activity in various ridings.”
By Canadian press