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HONG KONG - The government of China"s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said Friday in response to a US report on trafficking in persons that it "strongly disagreed" with this unfounded report and "took strong exception" to its unfair grading on Hong Kong.

"The US Department of State"s continued disregard of HKSAR government"s determined, persistent and reinforced efforts in combatting TIP is most deplorable and unacceptable," a HKSAR government spokesman said in response to the US Department of State"s "Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2018."

"We strongly disagree with the US TIP Report 2018. It contains criticisms not founded on facts and allegations not supported by evidence," the spokesman stressed in the statement.

The HKSAR government continued to expand its TIP victim screening mechanism to more police districts and further to the customs in 2017. Less than 0.2 percent of the vulnerable persons screened under the mechanism in 2017 were identified as victims.

"This is consistent with the fact that TIP is not prevalent in Hong Kong. Accusing Hong Kong of not taking the initiative in identifying and protecting TIP victims because of the low number of victims identified is simply illogical," the spokesman said.

The spokesman pointed out that the report ignores Hong Kong"s rigorous legislative regime, which contains over 50 legal provisions against various TIP conducts, the government departments"s heightened coordination in enforcement actions, as well as its cooperation with the international community in fighting the crimes.

The report also "treats Hong Kong unfairly" by failing to provide an accurate or objective assessment of Hong Kong"s commitment and efforts to protect foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) against exploitation, the spokesman said, stressing that the HKSAR government attaches great importance to protection of the rights and interest of the FDHs.

The HKSAR government set up this March a high-level inter-departmental Steering Committee to Tackle TIP and to Enhance Protection of FDHs, which has promulgated an action plan.

The committee and its action plan "clearly demonstrates the HKSAR government"s continuous and strong commitment and resolve in combatting TIP and protecting FDHs," the spokesman reiterated, adding that many of the new measures will take effect within 2018.