The Chinese-born Miss Canada, Anastasia Lin, said she was barred Thursday from entering China to participate in the Miss World pageant because of her vociferous critique of the country’s human rights record.
In a statement posted on her personal blog Lin said she was unable to board her connecting flight from Hong Kong and she was given no explanation.
“Unlike all other Miss World contestants, I did not receive an invitation letter from the Chinese organizers of this event, and so was unable to obtain a visa in advance,” wrote the 25-year-old actress and model. “Under Chinese law, however, Canadian citizens are eligible to obtain a landing visa upon arrival in Sanya, so I decided to try attending anyway.”
Lin, a follower of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that is banned in China, says the slogan of the Miss World competition is “Beauty with a purpose.”
“My purpose is to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves—those who suffer in prisons and labor camps, or whose voices have been stifled by repression and censorship,” Lin wrote.
Lin, who came to Canada at the age of 13, has been an outspoken critic of her native country’s suppression of political and religious dissent.
Earlier this month, Lin was a guest speaker at an event advocating for religious freedom in China organized by the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based pro-democracy British think tank. In July, she testified before a U.S. congressional committee on Chinese government persecution.
Lin says that as an actress, she also frequently takes on “roles in films and television productions that shed light on official corruption and religious persecution in China, and my Miss World Canada platform reflects these passions.”
Lin said the Chinese government is barring her from entering the competition “for political reasons.” Beijing has used the threat of visa denials to punish dissidents or anyone with unapproved views, and to bring academics and journalists to heel, she said.
“This is not conduct befitting an aspiring superpower—especially one that hopes to host international competitions such as Miss World and the upcoming Winter Olympics,” Lin wrote. “Silencing beauty queens, censoring journalists, and torturing religious believers is not a sign of strength—it is a sign of profound weakness and insecurity.”
RCI contacted the Chinese embassy in Ottawa for comments, however no official response was provided.