Vice President Mike Pence takes swipe at NBA and Nike in speech on China

Pence said the NBA was acting like a “wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime” for failing to stand up to the government’s criticism of Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey.

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Vice President Mike Pence criticized Nike and the NBA in a speech.

Vice President Mike Pence criticized Nike and the NBA in a speech.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence took a swipe at Nike and the NBA on Thursday in a speech criticizing communist China’s record on trade and human rights, saying American corporations have been too willing to ignore censorship and repression in pursuit of profits.

Pence singled out the shoe company for removing Houston Rockets’ merchandise from stores in China after the team’s general manager angered the Chinese government with a tweet supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

The NBA was acting like a “wholly owned subsidiary” of China’s “authoritarian regime” for failing to stand up to the government’s criticism of Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, he said.

“Nike promotes itself as a so-called ‘social-justice champion,’ but when it comes to Hong Kong, it prefers checking its social conscience at the door,” the vice president said in a speech laying out the Trump administration’s approach to China.

The speech was delivered as President Donald Trump seeks to close a new trade deal with China, with Pence cast in a hardline role. He criticized past administrations for tolerating unfair economic and trade practices and repression of Chinese citizens.

“The political establishment was not only silent in the faces of China’s economic aggression and human rights abuses, but enabled them,” he said.

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