Beijing is pushing back against Vice President Mike Pence's recent criticisms of China's human rights abuses, claiming his statements were “full of political prejudice and lies.”
Pence, who called out China for its treatment of protestors and minorities on Thursday, also lambasted American businesses that have taken a soft stance on the government's behavior.
His remarks showed “full arrogance and hypocrisy,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying, adding that Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and other affairs are “purely China’s.”
The vice president criticized China for its handling of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, its treatment of Uighurs and other religious minorities in Xinjiang and issues including its theft of intellectual property and the construction of a surveillance state.
U.S. and China trade representatives are scheduled to hold a phone call on Friday where China may ask for the removal of tariffs in exchange for more purchases of agricultural products. Pence’s accusations have the potential to hinder the talks.
The U.S. and China earlier this month reached a framework for a phase one trade deal that officials are hoping to draft by the time Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping travel to Chile next month for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Trump has said that a comprehensive trade deal could have two or three phases.
Friction between the U.S. and China widened earlier in October when Daryl Morey, the general manager of the NBA's Houston Rockets, tweeted support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. The NBA distanced itself afterward.
In his speech, Pence said the NBA was acting like a “wholly owned subsidiary” of Beijing. He also called out Nike, saying the sneaker company “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.”
Other U.S. companies have done their best to tiptoe around the controversy. Disney CEO Bob Iger, while appearing at The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference on Tuesday, said he doesn't want to take a position that would "harm our company."
"At present, Sino-U.S. relations are at a critical stage," said Hua, the foreign ministry spokesperson. "We urge the U.S. to proceed from the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples, respect the facts, correct mistakes, stop publishing irresponsible remarks, stop the practice of damaging relations between the two countries and mutual trust and cooperation, and earnestly follow the consensus established by the two heads of state."
FOX Business' R.N. White and Evie Fordham contributed to this report.