WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime critic of China's human rights policies, said Friday it would be wrong to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

She said in a statement that while the Chinese government has failed to live up to its commitments to improve human rights conditions in China and Tibet, "I believe a boycott of the Beijing Olympics would unfairly harm our athletes who have worked so hard to prepare for the competition."

The California Democrat, who has long contended that expanded trade and political ties to China should be tied to improvements in Beijing's human rights record, said she believed the International Olympic Committee made a mistake in awarding the 2008 summer games to China and sponsored a resolution at the time expressing that view.

She said the Olympics should provide an opportunity for free expression and that she supported the rights of individuals and groups to make their views on China known when the Olympic torch passes through San Francisco next month.

Pelosi drew fire from the Chinese for her visit with the Dalai Lama in India last week for discussions on the suppression of anti-Chinese disturbances in Tibet.

"As I said in India last week where I met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, if freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression in Tibet, we have lost our moral authority to speak out on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world," she said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.