Hong Kong today rejected the findings of a new US government report that said US interests are under threat and Beijing continues to “undermine” the rule of law and freedoms in the metropolis as part of a crackdown on national security.

The US 2023 Hong Kong Policy Act Report, released by the US State Department, said that the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities “continued to use ‘national security’ as a broad and vague basis to undermine the rule of law and protected rights and freedoms”.

China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in June 2020 without any local legislative or consultative process, outlawing actions such as plotting to overthrow the regime, which now carry penalties of up to life in prison.

Authorities say the law has restored order after protracted pro-democracy protests in 2019.

The tighter security regime in the metropolis mirrors mainland China, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping has implemented a harsh crackdown on dissent over the past decade, jailing government critics and rights defenders.

“Hong Kong authorities continued to arrest and prosecute people for peacefully expressing political views critical of the local and central government, including posting and promoting messages on social media,” the US report said.

A spokesperson for the Hong Kong government, for its part, said in a press release released that the government “strongly condemns and resolutely rejects baseless comments that distort the facts.”

“The US attempt to undermine the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong will only expose its own weakness and false arguments and is doomed to failure.”

The spokesman added that protecting national security is of “fundamental importance” and that everyone is equal before the law, regardless of their political stance and background.

More than 230 people have been arrested since 2020 for allegedly endangering national security, including 47 well-known democracy activists who now face charges of conspiracy to overthrow the regime in a landmark trial that will continued for several months.