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As the federal election is draws close, the two leading Australian political parties, comparing to what they had done three years ago, have invested tremendous amount of efforts into the Chinese social media platform—WeChat.
WeChat “Public Account” Bill Shorten and the Labour Party had held four live broadcasts and group discussions. In the meantime, Prime Minister Mr Morrison also opened his WeChat account on 1st of February.
The question is, how do the Chinese voters, who are the most active users of this platform, think about this?
“Both Mr Shorten and Mr Morrison speak very formally and officially on this platform.” Anya Cai, a Chinese Australian citizen told SBS Mandarin, “It makes no difference to me whether the expressions are in English or Chinese, as long as they are just very official words.”
Public Account Bill Shorten and the Labour Party published 42 articles on WeChat from April 1 to April 25, however, most of the articles had very small viewing numbers—a few hundreds, or even just above 100. Only several articles gained more than 1,000 views.
The situation looks somewhat better for Mr Morrison’s Public Account. In total 17 articles were published since February, with most of them reaching a few thousand viewers. The highest number was 19,000 clicks.
Had voted for both parties in the past, Anya regards herself as an experienced voter, thus can be more rational towards the good and bad amongst the election campaign.
Yet she admitted, the articles in Chinese on WeChat can somehow help to “attract median voters”.
The articles from both parties have been heavily focused on topics closest to the daily life, such as healthcare, education, wage, demography and real estate policies.
Wilfred, a researcher of Monash University, thinks that the efforts to reach to Chinese-speaking audience is “for sure a good gesture”, though he primarily gets information from the main stream English media.
He added: “It is a proof that they (the political parties) are aware of the Chinese community, especially the migrants from mainland China, and are willing to have open and direct conversations with them. It is better than nothing.”
In comparison to the actual promises to government policies, Wilfred cares more about the other topic: the tolerance of the society.
When talking about the migrants with African or Muslim background, he explained: “In fact, the Chinese migrants had been through similar situation long long ago, and that is why we ought to have empathy. We should understand their difficulties even better.” He thinks that “protecting the communities of various backgrounds will also benefit ourselves”.
Anya cares most about the energy costs and stability. “I couldn’t imagine the situation if my restaurant loses power for 24 hours,” the Melbournian café owner said, “It will be a huge loss.”
As a mother of a young child, Anya said that she does not pay too much attention to the policies of education.
“The Chinese parents have a special opinion towards education,” she explains, “my friends send their children to private schools if only they could afford that; they invest a lot of money into education themselves.” And the investment from the government seems quite insignificant in comparison.