How China's censorship machine crosses borders - and into Western politics - 2019-02-20
In September 2016, during the U.S. presidential campaign, I saw a post on WeChat–a Chinese social media platform combined with a messaging app–that took me aback. An acquaintance from China had shared a link to a Chinese website, explaining that this was where he planned to watch the live-streamed debate between Hillary Clinton and then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. My acquaintance went to graduate school in the United States and at the time was living in New York City. Yet, instead of turning on a television or logging onto YouTube, he planned to watch the debate on the Chinese Internet, a cyberspace subjected to stringent government censorship.
Why? Because that was where he obtained information about everything, including the country he immigrated to. He's certainly not alone.
WeChat, owned by the Chinese company Tencent, has about 1 billion active monthly users worldwide and about 100 million registered users outside China. Overseas Chinese use the app to read news, share information, and communicate with one another and users in China. A survey of Mandarin-speakers in Australia found that 60 percent of those polled identified WeChat as their primary source of news and information, and only 22 percent said they regularly access news from mainstream Australian media such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Sydney Morning Herald.