Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House of Representatives speaker, called on U.S. athletes not to speak out about human rights in China so as not to “anger” the repressive communist regime.
Pelosi reiterated Friday what she had said the day before when she spoke at a Congressional-Executive Committee hearing on China. She said athletes are there to compete and should not “risk incurring the wrath of the Chinese government because they are ruthless,” according to the New York Post.
“As I wish the athletes well, I do not encourage them to speak out against the Chinese government there because I fear for their safety if they do,” Pelosi said Friday after the opening ceremony of the Games. “[To] remove all doubt about why I said they shouldn’t speak out, it’s because I fear for their safety.”
The House speaker further criticized the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for authorizing China to host the Games, adding that it “turns a blind eye” to rights violations committed by Beijing.
Several human rights groups have denounced the IOC for remaining silent about aberrations committed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against innocent people, including the Uighur ethnic minority, Tibetans, and practitioners of the spiritual discipline of the Buddha school, Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong).
As noted by the Washington Examiner, the FBI on Monday warned of potential security threats from technology the Chinese regime routinely uses to monitor and persecute its targets. As a result, it urged U.S. athletes competing in the Beijing Olympics to leave their cell phones at home and consider using disposable ones while in China.
“The download and use of applications, including those required to participate or stay in country, could increase the opportunity for cyber actors to steal personal information or install tracking tools, malicious code, or malware,” the office’s alert said.
Pelosi nonetheless received several criticisms for her statements, including from Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, who lashed out at the Democrat on Fox News’ “That Faulkner Focus,” saying, “This is disgusting to tell our athletes, ‘Don’t tell us what you’re seeing. Just keep your mouth shut.’ We are very concerned for the safety and security of these athletes. We’re also very concerned about the human rights abuses that the Chinese Communist Party is carrying out.'”
She continued, “We know that there is a lot of hypocrisy when it comes to the U.N. leadership, when it comes to the Biden administration, Pelosi’s comments. The way they are treating these games. Allowing a U.S. broadcast network to be there broadcasting these games.”
Meanwhile, Rev. Al Sharpton, during MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, disagreeing with Pelosi, said, “you cannot normalize what they’re doing in China.”
“So we’re supposed to leave our principles of protest when we check in at Customs? I don’t think so,” he commented. “We need to let China know you live in a world where human rights is not negotiable,” the Rev. added.