Hong Kong has again been ranked the world’s freest economy by a Canadian think tank, ahead of Singapore, although the city was once more warned that interference from Beijing in local affairs could threaten its position. The Fraser Institute of Canada, in the 2019 edition of its report “Economic Freedom of the World”, placed Hong Kong first in the ranking of free economies, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United States, Ireland, Britain, Canada, Australia and Mauritius. China was 113. But the city’s ranking again came with a warning. “While Hong Kong remains the most economically free jurisdiction in the world, interference from China – including the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests – severely threatens Hong Kong’s rule of law, which helps ensure equal freedom for all, and endangers Hong Kong’s top position,” Fred McMahon, the institute’s Dr Michael A. Walker research chair in economic freedom, said in a press release on Thursday. McMahon issued a similar warning last year and in 2017, also singling out interference from China. Hong Kong has been gripped by three months of anti-government demonstrations , sparked by the now-shelved extradition bill, with escalating violence in clashes between protesters and police. While the government welcomed the ranking, a spokesman hit out at the institute’s “ungrounded” comments on the rule of law. Police ban weekend rally for fear of more violence and chaos “With regret, we take exception to the Fraser Institute’s comments in the press release about the rule of law in Hong Kong. Such comments are entirely ungrounded and not borne out by objective facts,” he said. The spokesman added: “Regrettably, recent events have seen protesters deviating from peaceful means by resorting to escalating violence, which necessitated the lawful use of reasonable force by the Hong Kong Police Force to maintain law and order. “The government is committed to stopping violence which is fundamental in protecting the life and property of innocent people and at the same time maintaining an open dialogue with the community at large with a view to looking for common ground and resolving differences on our own.” The spokesman said the city had exercised “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy in strict accordance with the Basic Law , the mini-constitution, since China resumed sovereignty in 1997. The “one country, two systems” principle had been fully and successfully implemented, the spokesman said, referring to the framework under which Beijing governed the city. Human rights and freedom in the city were fully protected by the Basic Law, he added. Opinion: Hong Kong’s meltdown a sign of capitalism in crisis across the globe The rankings of other major economics included Japan (17), Germany (20), Italy (46), France (50), Mexico (76), India (79), Russia (85) and Brazil (120). The institute measures the economic freedom of 162 territories based on factors such as levels of personal choice, ability to enter markets, security of privately owned property and rule of law. The 2019 report was based on data in 2017, the latest available.