WASHINGTON: US Vice President Mike Pence accused China of curtailing “rights and liberties” in Hong Kong and blasted U.S. company Nike and the National Basketball Association for falling in line with Beijing in a disagreement over free speech.
In a major policy speech on China that touched on an array of disputes ahead of talks with Beijing to ease a trade war, Pence said the United States does not seek confrontation or to “de-couple” from its main economic rival. But he pulled no punches when addressing some of the political rifts between the two countries.
Criticizing China’s construction of a “surveillance state,” and “increasingly provocative” military action, Pence held up Taiwan’s Democracy as a better path for Chinese people and took Beijing to task for its handling of pro-democracy protests that have rocked Hong Kong for more than four months. “Hong Kong
is a living example of what can happen when China embraces liberty,” he said. “And yet, for the last few years, Beijing has increased its interventions in Hong Kong and engaged in actions that curtail the rights and liberties that Hong Kong’s people were guaranteed through a binding international agreement.”