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'Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government, because they are ruthless': Pelosi warns US athletes against condemning China during the Olympics

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Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is advising American athletes not to speak out against China while attending the 2022 Beijing Olympics, noting that they could draw the ire of the nation's "ruthless" government.

"I would say to our athletes, you're there to compete. Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government, because they are ruthless. I know there is a temptation on the part of some to speak out while they are there. I respect that," Pelosi said, while noting that she is concerned about what China's government might do to those athletes' reputations and families.

Pelosi made the comments while delivering remarks Thursday at a Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing.

But the congresswoman did note the importance of calling China out for its abysmal record of human rights abuses.

"The People's Republic of China is perpetrating a campaign of gross human rights violations, including genocide," Pelosi said. "While we fully support and will root for our athletes, we cannot and will not be silent on human rights in China."

Hearing--The Beijing Olympics and the Faces of Repression www.youtube.com

The U.S. announced in December that it would engage in a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics. "U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can't do that," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing.

Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon has called it "shameful" that United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is planning to show up at the Beijing Olympics.

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