Vice President Mike Pence excoriated Nike and the NBA on Thursday, Oct. 24, 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 pointed out the shoe company for pulling the products of Houston Rockets from stores in China after the general manager of the team irritated the Chinese government with a tweet supporting anti-government demonstrators in Hong Kong.

The NBA was behaving as a “wholly owned subsidiary” of China’s “authoritarian regime” for refusing to stand up to the regime’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.

“In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime,” he added.

“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.

LeBron James made headlines last week for accusing Morey of not being “educated” on the China-Hong Kong issue and pointing out the “bad” side-effects of free speech. Other stars, including Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, have chosen to focus on alleged “oppression” in America as opposed to providing any criticism of China.

Other frequently outspoken NBA personalities such as Steve Kerr, Steph Curry, and Greg Popovich, have all declined to criticize China, according to Breitbart.

Unfair economic trade practices

The vice president criticized past administrations for tolerating unfair economic and trade practices and repression of Chinese citizens.

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

The Trump administration has stepped up pressure on Chinese political, international, and economic policies since he took office, including a tit-for-tat trade tariff dispute on billions of goods.

Pence said the FBI has 1,000 active intellectual property theft investigations, most of which include China. Tesla sued a former engineer in March charged with stealing 300,000 files related to an autopilot system that it is building before bolting for a job at a self-driving Chinese car company, he said.

The Department of Justice revealed last December that it had broken up a hacking campaign in which Chinese officials stole the names and details of 100,000 U.S. Navy personnel as well as ship repair information “with grave implications for our national security,” Pence said.

John Demers, the top national security official at the Justice Department, said at a separate cybersecurity conference in Washington that any progress in trade talks would have no impact on future cases involving Chinese espionage or theft of intellectual property. Only a shift in Chinese behavior would have an impact on those decisions, he said.

“We’re going to stop doing cases about Chinese intellectual property theft when the Chinese stop doing intellectual property theft,” Demers said.

Chinese Communist Party persecutes its own citizens

Pence also chided China for its repression of religious minorities and its aggressive territorial disputes with smaller neighbors. He said the United States stands with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

In 1997, China took control of Hong Kong from Britain under an agreement in which Beijing promised that it would allow the city to maintain its own legal and financial system and preserve unseen civil liberties on the continent. The protesters are afraid that Beijing is reneging on these promises.

“Millions of ethnic and religious minorities in China are struggling against the Party’s efforts to eradicate their religious and cultural identities. The Communist Party in China has arrested Christian pastors, banned the sale of Bibles, demolished churches, and imprisoned more than one million Muslim Uighurs,” Pence said.

“Just last month, President Trump imposed visas restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials, as well as sanctions on 20 Chinese public security bureaus and eight Chinese companies for their complicity in the persecution of Uighurs and other Chinese Muslims,” he said.

Includes reporting from the Associated Press

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