Messaging and e-payment app WeChat has become the latest Chinese technology to be banned by an overseas military on security grounds, with Australia instructing its armed forces not to use it.
The country’s defence department said the service did not meet its standards, although it did not directly link the ban to security concerns.
“Software and applications that do not meet Defence standards will not be authorised for use on Defence networks and mobile devices,” the country’s defence department said in an email statement. “Defence has a strict policy concerning the use of social media on its networks and mobile devices. Defence allows very few applications on Defence mobile devices. WeChat has not been authorised for use. “
Late last year the US military banned the use of drones made by China’s DJI, the world’s largest maker of the devices, citing “cyber vulnerabilities.” Other Chinese technologies have come under scrutiny, with a plan by mobile phone maker Huawei for a tie-up with US telecoms firm AT&T falling through under US government pressure.
The Australian Financial Review newspaper reported last month that US security officials had voiced concerns about Chinese involvement in the development of fast 5G networks in Australia. Also in January the US blocked the US$1.2 billion sale of money transfer firm Moneygram to China’s Ant Financial, the digital payments arm of Alibaba, while in September Chinese-backed Canyon Bridge Capital Partners’ US$1.3 billion bid for Lattice Semiconductor was rejected.
Analysts said the ban on WeChat for military personnel was most likely a political move, but was in line with policies in other countries.
“It is obvious that Australia is standing on the same side as the US and follows its steps. The WeChat ban is more a political behaviour to show its support for the US,” said Li Yi, chief fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.