HONG KONG • Canada's China- born Miss World contender is stuck in Hong Kong after being banned from taking a flight bound for China's mainland, where the beauty pageant will take place.
Ms Anastasia Lin, who was crowned Miss World Canada in May, said China was blocking her from travelling to the seaside resort city of Sanya, Hainan, for the 65th annual Miss World pageant to be held on Dec 19, because of her human rights activism.
The beauty queen, who moved to Canada as an adolescent, has actively denounced human rights abuses in China, notably its persecution of practitioners of spiritual group Falungong. She is herself a practitioner of Falugong, and testified in July at a US congressional hearing on religious persecution in China.
"I believe the Chinese government is angry at me because my work brings attention to these issues," Ms Lin said at a press conference yesterday. "I knew there was a big risk I could be barred but I didn't want to give in... unless I had exhausted all my options."
Despite not receiving an invitation from the Chinese organisers of the event, Ms Lin decided to travel to Sanya where tourists can apply for a visa on arrival, but was not allowed to board a connecting flight at Hong Kong's airport.
She called on the media to question why China would be concerned about a beauty queen. "I graduated from university this June, I'm 25 years old, I work as an actress, I do not pose a threat of any kind," she said on Thursday.
"They're sending this message to every Chinese or every brave person who dare to speak their minds... they want to show people that this is what you get when you speak up."
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa declined to comment, but issued a statement on Thursday saying: "China does not allow any persona non grata to come to China."
Ms Lin has also said she was disappointed by the silence from Ottawa. In an e-mail message, Foreign Affairs spokesman François Lasalle said "Canada is committed to constructive engagement with China on human rights", but declined to comment on Ms Lin's visa refusal.
The London-based Miss World Organisation has refused to advocate on her behalf, though Ms Lin says pageant officials have offered to let her compete in next year's finals. "They're just going to hang me out to dry," she said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES