| October 25, 2019 10:46 AM
Former NBA superstar Charles Barkley took aim at Mike Pence after the vice president said the NBA was kowtowing to China.
“Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up, number one,” Barkley said Thursday night. “All American companies are doing business in China. All American companies are doing business in China. I thought the criticism of commissioner Silver and LeBron James was unfair.”
“But I don’t understand why these holier-than-thou politicians, if they so want to worry about China, why don’t they stop all the transactions with China?” Barkley asked. “President Trump has been talking about and been arguing with tariffs for China for the last two years, but I think it’s unfair for them to do all their business in China, and just because this thing happened to try to make the NBA and our players look bad. All American companies do business in China, period.”
Pence said the NBA players need to speak out more about freedoms and human rights in China, during a Thursday speech in Washington, D.C.
“In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly-owned subsidiary of that authoritarian regime. A progressive corporate culture that willfully ignores human rights is not progressive, it is repressive,” the vice president said.
Pence also criticized Nike during his speech, saying, “When it comes to Hong Kong, it prefers checking its social conscience at the door.”
The NBA came under fire earlier this month from China after Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for the protests in Hong Kong. China responded by cutting all business ties with the Rockets and threatening future business with the NBA.
Some of the NBA’s top stars have received harsh criticism for not siding with Morey and the Hong Kong protesters.