BEIJING (AP) — China strongly criticized a U.S. human rights report Friday that describes tightening restrictions against rights advocates, religious organizations and other members of Chinese civil society.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a news briefing that the independent U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China "twisted facts and attacked China on purpose" in its report.
Hong said China was "strongly displeased" and demanded that the commission "stop this intervention and wrongdoing which hurts China-US relations."
Released Thursday, the report said President Xi Jinping has adhered "to the authoritarian model of his predecessors" since taking power last year.
"Human rights and rule of law conditions in China overall did not improve this past year, and declined in some of the areas covered by this report," the commission wrote. "The limited space for peaceful expression, assembly, and religious practice in China constricted further."
The report also urged the U.S. government to focus more on Hong Kong, where pro-democracy activists have blocked streets to demand open nominations for the city's chief executive. The protesters oppose Beijing's restrictions on nominees for the first-ever direct elections for Hong Kong's leader, promised in 2017.
"Members of Congress and the Administration should increase support for Hong Kong's democracy through statements and meetings at the highest levels and visits to Hong Kong," the report read.
Hong responded that "such institutes should be cautious about what they say and do and refrain from sending wrong signals over illegal events."
The commission has no authority to implement policy but recommended U.S. officials examine how it issues visas to Chinese officials as a response to the country's rights situation.