Vice President Mike Pence ripped the NBA’s handling of the China situation on Thursday, saying the league is “acting like a wholly owned subsidiary” of the communist country.
Pence delivered his tough words about the incident, which began with a pro-Hong Kong tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, during a speech on Thursday at The Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
Pence took issue with how star players went silent in the wake of the controversy caused by Morey’s Oct. 4 tweet: “Fight for Freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
“Some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of other peoples,” Pence said during the speech.
China and the NBA remain at odds as the country refused to air preseason games played in China and the NBA stands to lose billions of dollars after most Chinese businesses with partnerships either canceled or suspended their deals with the league.
Pence also criticized the apparel company Nike, which took steps to avoid backlash by removing Houston Rockets gear from its Chinese stores.
“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,” Pence said. “Nike stores in China actually removed their Houston Rockets merchandise from their shelves to join the Chinese government in protest against the Rockets general manager’s seven-word tweet: ‘Fight for Freedom, stand with Hong Kong.’”