( Reuters ) - Taiwan's president-elect said on Sunday he would consider boycotting the Beijing Olympics this summer if the crackdown worsened in Tibet, a move that would add new tension to long-strained ties between the island and China.
Ma Ying-jeou, who won the presidential race on Saturday by a landslide, told a news conference he would examine Chinese suppression of Tibetan protesters and the progress in Tibetan areas of China that have been rocked by protests.
"If the situation in Tibet worsens, we would consider the possibility of not sending athletes to the Games," said Ma, who has attended events in Taiwan to remember the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.
"I did this out of a deep commitment to human rights," he said. "I do criticize China's human rights record."
Ma's aides said earlier he would survey public opinion before deciding whether to send athletes to the August 2008 Olympics.
But Ma would risk "bankruptcy" to his otherwise China-conciliatory agenda if he carried out the boycott threat, said Hsu Yung-ming, a political science professor at Soochow University in Taiwan.
"So I'm suspicious of his statement," Hsu said.
Taiwan's view of China's first-ever Olympics was chilled by politics until the island's baseball team qualified for the Games on March 13. Taiwan is baseball crazy.