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US group vows support for Hong Kong despite China's sanctions

Freedom House President Michael J. Abramowitz speaks at the Freedom House 2018 Annual Awards Dinner on May 23, 2018, in Washington. (Getty/Kyodo)

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- Freedom House, a Washington-based pro-democracy group on which China has imposed sanctions in retaliation for the recent U.S. enactment of a Hong Kong human rights law, pledged Monday to continue supporting people in the Chinese territory.

The group is one of several nongovernmental organizations that the Chinese government has said are subject to its sanctions, though it has not spelled out just what such sanctions may be.

"This threat of sanctions from China's authoritarian regime is antithetical to democratic values and universal human rights," Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz said in a statement hours after China's announcement.

"The Chinese Communist Party's most recent actions will only strengthen our resolve as we continue to oppose its well-documented efforts to undermine fundamental human rights," Abramowitz said.

Freedom House is a nongovernmental watchdog on democracy, political freedom and human rights around the world. The organization says that it has worked to uphold democracy and human rights for 78 years across the globe.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that U.S.-headquartered NGOs including Freedom House and Human Rights Watch "should be punished and pay the price" for supporting "extremist and violent criminal acts" in Hong Kong.

Hua did not elaborate on details of the sanctions.

China had threatened countermeasures even before U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law last week legislation aimed at supporting pro-democracy protesters in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The new law directs the U.S. State Department to conduct an annual review to determine whether Hong Kong has retained enough autonomy from China to maintain its special trading status with the United States.

The law also imposes sanctions on individuals deemed responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong.

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