A senior Chinese official issued a scathing rebuke of Vice President Mike Pence on Friday, calling him a liar after he said Beijing was muzzling American businesses and violating the rights of protesters in Hong Kong.
"His remarks are full of arrogance, prejudice, critical biases and lies," China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a press conference in Beijing.
The efforts to "smear" China were an attempt to distract from problems in the United States, such as gun control and wealth inequality, Hua added.
At the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Pence accused China of "coercing corporate America" by silencing companies, think tanks, scholars and government officials.
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The vice president specifically pointed to American company Nike, which he said removed Houston Rockets merchandise from its stores in China after the government there expressed outrage over a National Basketball Association general manager tweeting his support for Hong Kong protesters.
NBA players and owners also "lose their voices" when it comes to discussing China and act as a "subsidiary of the authoritarian regime," he said.
President Donald Trump on Friday gave his support for Pence's remarks, repeatedly calling them "fine."
"I went over the speech. The speech was fine, it was fine. The speech was fine. But I’m also working very closely with China on a deal but his speech was fine," the president said.
The spat comes amid a simmering trade war between China and the U.S. that includes accusations that China steals or coerces foreign firms to hand over sensitive technology.
On Oct. 14, President Donald Trump said without providing evidence that China had "already begun" making large purchases of U.S. agricultural products as part of last week's tariff deal with Beijing. This followed his announcement of a partial agreement between Washington and Beijing, which Trump called a "substantial phase-one deal" that would take three to five weeks to write.
Continuing to attack the Communist Party's governance, Pence said China was "suppressing religion" and existing as a "surveillance state" that targets ethnic minorities.
On Friday, Hua said Americans should "look themselves in the mirror to fix their own problems and get their house in order" before making accusations about other countries.
From imposing sanctions on other countries to withdrawing from international groups, Hua said, "the U.S. has already abandoned its morality and credibility."