WeChat provides an important resource for members of the Australian-Chinese community. As a bridge for the Chinese diaspora, it allows Chinese-Australians to message and communicate with loved ones back home in China. These linkages are something to be encouraged, celebrated and protected. But we can no longer ignore the ways in which WeChat is inextricably tied to the Chinese government's draconian surveillance state.
As Tenzin Dorjee of the Tibet Action Institute has noted, WeChat is not simply a bridge for diaspora populations, but ''a rope that binds the diaspora to a command centre in Beijing.'' It has become part of a profound apparatus of censorship and ''transational repression,'' used by the Chinese Communist Party to silence and punish exiled dissidents and intimidate overseas critics and activists in the diaspora.
We've seen this sorry process manifest itself right here in Australia time and time again. In Brisbane, we have seen Chinese, Hong Konger, Tibetan and Uyghur dissidents forced to go dark and abandon protests after using WeChat. The Chinese state has been able to terrify Australian citizens into silence by targeting the families of activists who use the app. This is only possible through the intimate surveillance capabilities WeChat provides the Chinese state.
The fundamentally repressive nature of the app has only been further underscored in recent days by recent steps taken by WeChat to censor Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's messages to the wider Chinese community. Through WeChat, the Chinese government has seen fit to censor the comunications of a democratically elected national leader to his fellow Australians in the Chinese-speaking community.
This situation is unsustainable, and so our call is for the Australian government to now ban WeChat in the interests of denying a totalitarian government this means of exporting censorship and repression to Australia. We acknowledge the difficulties and hardships this will impose on Chinese speakers here, not least among them Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hong Kongers who wish to communicate with families at threat back home. But we must make sacrifices in the pursuit of democracy and justice. As Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress and son to murdered Uyghur activists, has said: ''We want communication that leads to liberty, not communication that keeps us in captivity.'' In the pursuit of this goal, we call on the Australian government to ban WeChat.
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