by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Biden administration is endangering U.S. athletes who plan to travel to China for the 2022 Beijing Olympics amid a new warning from the Chinese Communist Party that it will punish foreigners for making political statements, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday.
“No one should be the least bit surprised that China is threatening our athletes and warning them against criticizing their communist government,” Haley said. “President Biden’s diplomatic boycott means nothing to a regime that’s imprisoning activists and committing genocide without consequences. Our athletes are at risk, and yet we’ve heard nothing from the administration on what they plan to do to protect them.” Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, has emerged in recent months as one of the most prominent critics of the Beijing Games and has repeatedly laid into the Biden administration for capitulating to China.
Haley’s comments to the Free Beacon come after a top CCP official warned on Tuesday that foreign athletes who travel to the communist country, including Americans, will face punishment if they engage in political speech during the games. This would include criticism of the Chinese government’s ongoing genocide against the Uyghur ethnic minority, as well as its surveillance and police state.
“Any behavior or speech that is against the Olympic spirit, especially against Chinese laws and regulations, are also subject to certain punishment,” Yang Shu, deputy director general of international relations for the Beijing Organizing Committee, was quoted as saying at a press conference.
The latest comments raise fresh concerns that Americans and other foreigners could be detained in China if they run afoul of the CCP’s strict guidelines. While the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the games, meaning no U.S. official will be present in the country, American athletes are still allowed to participate.