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Pence blasts Nike for pushing its ‘social-justice champion’ reputation while ‘checking its social conscience at the door’ by ignoring China’s actions in Hong Kong

Vice President Mike Pence slammed Nike in a speech about China on Thursday.

"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," Pence said in a speech bashing China on a number of issues, from Hong Kong protests to the country's economic relationship with the US.

Pence said that Nike stores in China removed Houston Rockets merchandise in response to a general manager's "seven-word tweet." In October, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted to support protests in Hong Kong.

The vice president also criticized high-profile figures in the NBA for losing "their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China." Pence said such behavior was "not just wrong, it's un-American."

"A progressive corporate culture that ignores the abuse of human right is not progressive, it is repressive," Pence said.

Nike did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

China is a key growth region for Nike, with sales in Greater China surging 22% in the first quarter of this fiscal year to make up about 17% of its total revenue, Markets Insider's Yusuf Khan reports.

"The clash between the NBA and China puts Nike in an uncomfortable position, where supporting one side risks alienating the other, eating into its popularity and sales," Khan reported earlier in October. "Saying nothing could also lead to it being lumped in with the NBA if consumers and partners boycott the league."