China blasts 'arrogance and hypocrisy' of US VP Pence speech

AFP
In his speech, US Vice President Mike Pence rebuked the NBA for 'siding with the Chinese Communist Party' (AFP Photo/Frederic J. BROWN)
In his speech, US Vice President Mike Pence rebuked the NBA for 'siding with the Chinese Communist Party' (AFP Photo/Frederic J. BROWN)

Beijing (AFP) - Beijing slammed US Vice President Mike Pence for his "arrogance and hypocrisy" on Friday after he voiced support for Hong Kong democracy protesters and accused the NBA of kowtowing to China.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing that the United States should "cease expressing irresponsible opinions".

In a wide-ranging speech on US-China relations, Pence on Thursday also lashed Beijing over its trading behaviour, assertive military posture and treatment of religious minorities.

Pence rebuked the NBA for "siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech" over a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey earlier this month that voiced support for demonstrations in Hong Kong.

China, a major basketball market, retaliated by ending sponsorships and cancelling broadcasts of two pre-season games held in the country.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver later said China had asked the NBA to fire Morey, which Beijing has denied.

Hua hit out at the US on Friday for losing "all trace of morality and trustworthiness" and urged Washington to "cease actions that harm the relations and mutual trust between the two countries".

She accused Pence of "attempting to distract the American public by slandering other countries" and decried the United States' "stubborn withdrawal from international treaties and agreements".

Pence's speech was billed as follow-up to an address he gave last year in which he accused China of improperly seeking to influence congressional elections to defeat US President Trump.

Pence, who also said the US ultimately wanted a "constructive" relationship with China, made his remarks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars amid ongoing negotiations over a deal between the trade-war rivals.

"The United States does not seek confrontation with China. We seek a level playing field, open markets, fair trade and a respect for our values," Pence said.

Trump said on Monday that he expected to "sign a completed document with China on phase one" next month.

Hua warned on Friday that "China-US relations are at a crucial stage."

The protests that have wracked semi-autonomous Hong Kong for months have been met with rare bipartisan support in the US.

The House of Representatives passed a bill on October 15 that would end Hong Kong's special trading status unless the State Department certifies annually that Hong Kong authorities are respecting human rights and the rule of law.

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