Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday accused the NBA of "acting like a wholly owned subsidiary" of China's ruling Communist Party.
Pence's criticism of the professional basketball league was the harshest from the Trump administration since the NBA effectively apologized for a tweet by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey in support of anti-government protestors in Hong Kong in early October.
China is one of the biggest markets for the NBA.
"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 in a speech.
"In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime."
The NBA had no immediate comment when contacted by CNBC.
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