The Government has been accused of “spending its money on its own PR machine” after an Australian-Chinese advertising platform was classified as a Chinese government agent.
Key points:In a statement the Government says it has been working with the Australian Federal Police and Australian Federal Communications Commission to investigate the offending advertisementsThe Australian Federal Government says its advertising program is separate to the one run by Tencent, which is the largest Chinese internet platform, and is working with Chinese authoritiesThe Australian Government says Tencent has not been engaged with the Chinese government for a year and has been engaged as a PR company since OctoberThis is not the first time the Chinese Government has targeted an Australian company for investigation over alleged misuse of state-owned media.
In 2014, a Chinese state-run media company, Huayuan, was accused of using government-funded media to promote its own propaganda.
In December 2016, the Australian Government announced that Tencent would be banned from using the country’s most powerful internet platform after it was found to have spent $1.8 million to promote China’s anti-corruption campaign, The Daily Beast reported.
At the time, Tencent was not classified as an official government agency, but it is now classified as one.
The announcement follows a joint investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Federal Government, which found the ads were likely to breach section 13 of the Fair Trading Act.
The Fair Trading Commission and Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) conducted a joint inquiry into whether the ads violated section 13.
Mr Gossage said the Government was now working with local and federal agencies to identify how it can move to block the ads.
“We have been working closely with the Federal Police, Australian Federal Commission and Chinese authorities to ensure the advertising is not being used to influence our advertising rules and the advertising industry,” he said.
“Our advertising program, which includes advertising on a number of Chinese-language platforms including Tencent and Zhejiang Media Group, is separate from Tencent’s advertising program.”
The Australian government has not taken any action to block this advertising program in any other countries.
“Mr Gose said the Australian advertising industry was “fraught with issues” and that “the Chinese government has an extensive track record of engaging in unlawful activity, including using public funds to influence policy in our country”.”
We are determined to combat this problem,” he added.’
Faulty research’The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) said it had been working for more than a year with Chinese media company Huayuans advertising network to determine whether the advertisements breached section 13, which requires companies to disclose their spending in the public interest.
Mr Goldsworthy said he had been “very concerned” about the advertisement and had been given access to relevant documents.”
This information has been used to identify a number issues related to advertising standards in the industry, and I think the evidence that was presented to the ASB suggests that the ASA should have considered these issues,” he told the ABC.”
I have not seen any evidence of any wrongdoing.
“As I said, we’re very concerned about this, and we’re working with our regulators and our regulators are going to take a look at it.”
But it’s not a big issue that I’m aware of.”‘
An unfortunate accident’Mr Goldson said the ASF did not believe that the ads should be considered an attempt to influence public policy.”
They’re an unfortunate accident that’s happened, but we’re certainly not going to allow that to happen,” he explained.
Mr Trewsdale said the ads had been widely circulated and appeared to be legitimate, but had raised concerns about whether they violated the Fair Trade Act.”
You’ve got a lot of advertising that’s out there that’s going to promote Chinese government propaganda, and that’s a concern, that there’s a lot that’s very dangerous that’s being done,” he noted.”
And that’s something that the Chinese authorities should be concerned about.