Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley criticized American-born skier Eileen Gu for her decision to represent China at the Beijing Olympics.
Haley, who is of Indian descent and previously served as the first female governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, accused the 18-year-old Olympic medalist, whose mother is Chinese, of “standing for human rights abuses” in an interview with RealClearPolitics.
“In terms of the citizenship, look, China or the U.S.? You have got to pick a side. Period,” Haley said. “You’ve got to pick a side, because you’re either American or you’re Chinese, and they are two very different countries.”
“Every athlete needs to know when they put their flag on, you’re standing for freedom, or you’re standing for human rights abuses. There is no in-between,” she added.
Haley referred to China’s alleged human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs and said she has not seen the Olympics this year nor has any plans to watch.
“I can’t get the images out of my head of people on their knees, blindfolded, knowing what’s about to happen to them,” Haley explained. “I can’t imagine in any way supporting that or propping up China.”
“My hope and prayer is that Americans realize that China is the one that gave us COVID,” she added. “China is the one stealing intellectual property. China is the one committing human rights abuses. And China is the one that has become a surveillance state that is now going to start dictating to our American companies, which is why they’ve started to leave.”
“At some point, we need to understand it is time to move on from China,” the former governor concluded.
Gu has been facing public scrutiny over her citizenship status in China and the U.S., as China does not recognize dual-citizenship; however, many have speculated that the athlete is receiving special treatment. Gu and her representatives have reportedly been avoiding questions regarding her nationality, and it remains unclear whether the athlete still holds passports from both countries.
“So I grew up spending 25-30% (of my time) in China. I’m fluent in Mandarin and English and fluent culturally in both,” Gu said when asked about her citizenship, according to Reuters. “So coming here, I really feel there was a sense of coming home. I feel just as American as Chinese. I don’t feel I’m taking advantage of one or another. They understand that my mission is to foster a connection between countries and not a divisive force.”