Federal election monitors attached little significance to suspected Communist Party meddling via Chinese language media posts because they were “written in Mandarin,” a cabinet aide told the China inquiry. None of five cabinet appointees assigned to keep a lookout for foreign agents spoke Chinese.

“The fact it is written in Mandarin meant the content would likely only reach Chinese diaspora readers,” Allen Sutherland, assistant secretary to the cabinet, said in a sworn statement at the Commission on Foreign Interference. Sutherland said he did not intend to be patronizing.

“It was simply that in the case of WeChat, the ability of that to go viral in a national scale is different,” said Sutherland. “It doesn’t mean – I don’t want to leave you with the impression it was treated with any less seriousness.”

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