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October 25, 2019

Charles Barkley on NBA-China controversy: 'Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up'

The Hall of Famer and former 76er weighed in, stating the league's commissioner is being unfairly criticized about the situation

NBA Hall of Famer and former 76er Charles Barkley had some choice words for the vice president. 

"Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up, No. 1," he said during the "NBA on TNT" pregame show Thursday night.

LATEST: Wells Fargo Center security: Sixers fans with pro-Hong Kong signs 'disrupted the live event experience' | Sixers prepare for preseason game vs. Chinese squad with Daryl Morey incident hanging overhead

Barkley's comments are a response to Pence's speech about China and the future of U.S.-Chinese relations on Thursday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Pence criticized China's actions in Hong Kong, as well as companies like Nike and the NBA, for falling in line with Beijing over freedom of speech issues.

"Beijing's behavior has become even more aggressive and destabilizing," Pence said. 

Foreign relations grew to involve basketball with a since-deleted tweet. Houston Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support to anti-government, pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters, who are demanding civil-liberty protections against mainland China. Almost immediately, Chinese companies began to withdraw from licensing agreements with the NBA, suspended partnerships, and barred games from Chinese television stations.

The organization later called Morey's comments "regrettable" in an effort to undo the damage. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would "double down on engaging" with China and other countries "regardless of their governments." 

Since then, Hong Kong protestors attending NBA games have been asked to leave arenas and players have been asked not to speak about the issue. Wells Fargo Center officials ejected two Philadelphia 76ers fans earlier this month who were wearing "Free Hong Kong" T-shirts and signs. Officials said the couple was "disrupting the live experience." 

And now, it seems Barkley is taking the NBA's side. 

"All American companies are doing business in China," he said. "I don't understand why these holier-than-thou politicians, if they so want to worry about China, why don't they stop all transactions with China?"

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