Canada Detects Misinformation Campaign on WeChat Targeting Member of Parliament.
A recent revelation has come to light, with Canada reporting the detection of a deliberate misinformation campaign on the Chinese instant messaging platform WeChat. The alleged focus of this campaign was Michael Chong, a prominent Conservative politician. The misleading content spread across this campaign pertained to Chong’s personal background, family heritage, and political stances.
Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has stated that there exists a “highly probable” connection between China and the orchestrated campaign against Chong on WeChat. In response, China has denied any involvement in the matter.
Canadian authorities are traditionally reticent about divulging information concerning foreign interference. However, in an uncommon move, GAC issued a statement asserting the difficulty in definitively attributing the attacks to China due to the covert nature of such misinformation campaigns.
The statement from GAC indicated, “Unequivocal proof that China ordered and directed the operation is not possible to determine due to the covert nature of how social media networks are leveraged in this type of information campaign.” This incident forms part of a broader series of allegations emerging over recent months from Canadian intelligence agencies and officials, accusing Beijing of interfering in Canadian elections.
GAC disclosed that it uncovered the campaign against Chong while actively monitoring social media and online platforms for signs of foreign interference prior to a by-election scheduled for June 19. The misleading content originated from news accounts on WeChat, systematically amplifying false narratives regarding Chong.
The attacks appeared coordinated and displayed an abnormal level of activity. GAC identified that around one-third of the accounts responsible for amplifying these attacks were linked to state-run media outlets or accounts associated with the Chinese state. The remainder of the accounts remained anonymous and had no prior engagement with Canadian political matters.
In response to these allegations, the Chinese embassy in Canada vehemently refuted the claims, terming them “purely groundless” and asserting that China never interferes in Canada’s internal affairs.
GAC expressed its intention to communicate with Chinese representatives in Canada about these posts, emphasizing Canada’s stance against any form of interference in its democracy or internal affairs.
This is not the first time Canada has accused China of targeting Chong and his relatives, especially in Hong Kong, after he raised concerns about human rights abuses in China. The fallout from these incidents led to the expulsion of Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei by Canada in May, prompting China to reciprocate by ordering the removal of Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, a Canadian diplomat stationed in its Shanghai Consulate.
In a media statement released recently, Chong referred to the campaign against him as “another serious example of the communist government in Beijing attempting to interfere in our democracy by targeting elected officials.” He renewed his call for a public inquiry into allegations of China’s foreign interference in Canada.
Despite mounting pressure, it remains uncertain whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will initiate an inquiry into this issue.