U.S. Vice President Mike Pence sharply criticized Nike and the National Basketball Association for how they handled the aftermath of a highly controversial tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of protests in Hong Kong.
Pence directed some of his harshest words at sports apparel giant Nike and the NBA, which he accused of siding with China's Communist Party over freedom of speech in Hong Kong.
Pence, who is often the face of the Trump's administration's tougher policies on China, said the NBA and Nike had failed to defend basketball team Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, after he tweeted support of Hong Kong protesters earlier this month.
"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," he said.
By "siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime," Pence said.
Nike stores in China removed Rockets merchandise after Beijing criticized Morey, Pence noted.
"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," he said.