Politics & Government

Nikki Haley applauds Hong Kong protests, criticizes China in SC visit

While speaking to a crowd of high school students in her home state, former South Carolina Governor and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley voice support for the ongoing Democratic protests in Hong Kong.

“They’re fighting to have what we have,” Haley told a crowd of students at Chapin High School Wednesday. “To say what they want to say.”

Haley urged students to pay attention to the Chinese protests, in which thousands of Hong Kong residents have clashed with police for months over the question of whether officials will allow extradition to the Chinese mainland. Critics of the proposals have said it could undermine the independence that Hong Kong has long enjoyed.

The former ambassador called China a “surveillance state” and criticized the country for penalizing citizens for speaking ill of the government. She applauded the ongoing protests.

“Because of that, they’re feeling the pressure,” Haley said.

During her opening remarks in Chapin, shes also touched on the increasingly divided political realm, criticizing both Democratic and Republican leaders for calling their opposing side “evil.”

“That bothers me. And the reasons it bothers me is because I’ve seen evil,” Haley said. “I have looked at pictures of children who died of chemical weapon attacks in Syria. When you see those images, that’s evil, and what we need to remember is to be grateful, because on our worst day, we are blessed to be in America.”

Haley’s remarks come as her former boss, President Donald Trump, is under increased scrutiny from Democrats in the House of Representatives, who kicked off an impeachment inquiry in September. House members are examining allegations that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine as leverage to ask officials to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Haley, whose political career started as a Lexington County state representative in the mid-2000s, is one of several prominent speakers who has addressed the student body at Chapin High School, including University of South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin.

Haley gave a short speech to the student body Wednesday afternoon, followed by a very short Q&A with the student body president and Carter Burns, the son of one of Haley’s former chiefs of staff. Students were allowed to submit questions for Haley, who was greeted by teachers wearing American Flag scarves, pro-American signs taped around the arena and a few students wearing pro-Trump clothing, including a “Trump 45” football jersey.

Emily Bohatch helps cover South Carolina’s government for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning a Green Eyeshade award in Disaster Reporting in 2018 for her teamwork reporting on Hurricane Irma. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.