Human rights activist and Canada’s Miss World contestant, Anastasia Lin, has been refused permission to enter China to compete in the beauty pageant, apparently in retaliation for her comments on the country's human rights record.
Lin, a Chinese-born Canadian citizen who was crowned Miss World Canada in May, says that she had flown from Canada to Hong Kong but was not allowed to board another plane to Sanya island in China's Hainan Province, all but ensuring she will miss the finals of the competition.
The Miss World pageant is being held on Sanya, a Chinese tourist hotspot that Lin said had a visa system that differed from that of the mainland.
Also, unlike contestants from other countries, Lin had not received an invitation letter from Chinese authorities to take part in the annual pageant, to be held in the city of Sanya in a few weeks. Lin believes her public criticism of China’s human rights record led to her being left out.
“I was never given an explanation as to why I did not receive the letter,” she said in a statement on Facebook. “Under Chinese law, however, Canadian citizens are eligible to obtain a landing visa upon arrival in Sanya, so I decided to try attending anyway.”
Despite her best efforts, though, she was unable to get a visa or board the plane.
“No reason was given for the denial,” she said.
The beauty queen is a practitioner of Falun Gong, an exercise, meditation and philosophical regime that has been banned in China since 1999. The Communist Party reportedly feared that Falun Gong's huge popularity was a threat to its political leadership. Human rights groups claim China continues to imprison Falun Gong followers and Lin has strongly criticized China’s treatment of members, including at a U.S. Congressional committee in July. In her testimony, she said she wanted to "speak for those in China that are beaten, burned and electrocuted for holding to their beliefs," according to the text of her statement on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China's website.
The Miss World grand final will be held on December 19. Lin's photograph was missing from the list of contestants on the Miss World website on Friday, although her name and country were visible.
Miss World pageant organizers said in an email they had no information as to why a visa was not granted to Lin, but said she may be offered a place in the 2016 Miss World contest.