United States figure skater Alysa Liu and her father, Arthur Liu, were targeted in a spy operation that was traced back to the Chinese government during the Beijing Olympics, according to the Associated Press. Arthur Liu was contacted by the FBI in October and warned about a potential scheme that involved the Chinese government harassing people who had left China.
Arthur Liu, who admitted he was “truly very scared” chose not to tell Alysa Liu at the time because he didn’t want to distract her from her training for the Winter Games. Arthur Liu is a political refugee that left China when he was in his 20s after he protested the Communist government. He eventually moved to California and has raised his daughter in the United States.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian denied the government’s involvement. He stated that he was “not aware of the specifics” regarding the allegations, but said that China is “firmly opposed to the US slandering by making an issue of this out of thin air.”
“China always asks Chinese citizens to abide by the laws and regulations of host countries, and we would never ask our citizens to engage in activities that violate local laws,” Zhao said on Thursday. “The so-called transnational harassment schemes are just trumped up.”
Arthur allowed his daughter to participate in the Olympics after the State Department and United States Olympic Committee assured him that she would be protected while competing in China. She ended up finishing in seventh place in the women’s figure skating competition at the Beijing Games.
“They are probably just trying to intimidate us, to … in a way threaten us not to say anything, to cause trouble to them and say anything political or related to human rights violations in China,” Arthur Liu said. “I had concerns about her safety. The US government did a good job protecting her.”