Pelosi fears 'for the physical safety' of US Olympic athletes who speak out against China
Beijing Olympics kick off Friday amid U.S. diplomatic boycott
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doubled down Friday on her warning to U.S. Olympic athletes to not speak out against the Chinese communist government while competing in the Beijing Olympics.
"I wish the athletes well," Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a Capitol event to celebrate the imminent passage of the America COMPETES Act to counter China. "I do not encourage them to speak out against the Chinese government there because I fear for their safety if they do."
The Winter Olympics kick off Friday amid a U.S. diplomatic boycott of the games to protest Chinese human rights abuses.
PELOSI WARNS US ATHLETES NOT TO RISK 'INCURRING THE ANGER' OF 'RUTHLESS' CHINESE GOVERNMENT DURING OLYMPICS
Pelosi raised eyebrows on Thursday when she told the athletes that they are "there to compete" and are not to "risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government because they are ruthless."
Pelosi expanded on her warning Friday by reiterating she wants U.S. athletes to stay safe.
"I fear for the physical safety of those who may speak out," Pelosi added.
BEIJING OLYMPICS TO RENEW SCRUTINY ON CHINA'S HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES, INTERNATIONAL VIOLATIONS
The comments from the California congresswoman follow immense criticism of the Chinese communist regime’s human rights abuses at home, as well as its violations of international law and freedoms abroad.
China's crackdown under hard-line ruler Xi Jinping has been felt across wide swaths of society. Hong Kong authorities crushed anti-government protests in the city in 2019, and the central government in Beijing passed a national security law aimed at stifling dissent, leading to the arrest of activists and disbandment of civil society groups.
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An independent, unofficial body set up by a prominent British barrister to assess evidence on China’s alleged rights abuses against the Uyghur people concluded in December that the Chinese government committed genocide. China has consistently denied any human rights abuses in the region and has said it carried out its actions to counter extremism and ensure people's safety in the region.
In the country's western region of Xinjiang, an estimated 1 million people or more — most of them Uyghurs — have been confined in reeducation camps in recent years, according to researchers.
Earlier this week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the threat coming from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is "more brazen" and "more damaging than ever before."
"There’s just no country that presents a broader threat to our ideas, innovation and economic security than China," Wray said Monday, speaking from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. "The Chinese government steals staggering volumes of information and causes deep, job-destroying damage across a wide range of industries."
Fox News' Kyle Morris, Adam Shaw, Caitlin McFall and The Associated Press contributed to this report.