China’s WeChat, like most social networks, is a haven for disinformation and “fake news”. Less well-known, at least in the West, is its role in mobilising Chinese diaspora communities to support particular political policies or people.
These activities are coordinated through a system known as the United Front, a network of party and state agencies that are responsible for influencing purportedly independent groups outside the Chinese Communist Party.
At the very top, the United Front Work Department is led by China’s fourth most senior political leader, Wang Yang. President Xi Jinping and his family have been involved in United Front work for decades.
“Where United Front really works their biggest magic is actually on social media WeChat,” says Maree Ma, general manager of Vision Times, a leading Chinese-language Australian media outlet.
WeChat’s private groups are capped at 500 members, but according to Ma, there’s “hundreds” of United Front organisations in Australia, each of them with many of these groups.
- US tech firms are banned from using Universal Service Fund to purchase or support any equipment or services provided by these suppliers
- The announcement is a step forward in restricting 5G technological equipment made by Chinese companies from entering US telecoms infrastructure