Anastasia Lin, who was crowned Miss World Canada in May, has been banned from competing for the global beauty pageant title in China. While she was not given a reason for being banned from entering China, she believes her outspoken criticism of the Communist Party has made her a target.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Lin writes that she had been denied a visa to enter China, but was hoping to receive a landing visa upon arriving in Hong Kong and cross into Sanya, where the pageant is to take place. “Sanya is a special place: citizens of certain countries—including Canada—are allowed to obtain a landing visa upon their arrival. So that was my plan,” she writes. She was barred from boarding a plane to Sanya. In her Facebook post, she says she was not given a reason for why she was prevented from traveling, but nonetheless condemns the Chinese Communist government for its oppression of dissidents and says she believes she was banned from the pageant for “political reasons.”
“If the Communist Party doesn’t want their shameful conduct exposed, the solution is not to imprison people. It is not to censor the internet and deny entry to beauty pageant contestants. It’s much more simple: just stop doing shameful things,” she writes.
The Toronto Star reports Lin described her exclusion from the pageant as “unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected.” In a separate press release, Lin expresses a sense of duty she feels to speak out against the human rights abuses of the Chinese government:
When I was a child growing up in China, my job as a student council president involved enforcing ideological purity among my classmates, organizing them to watch Communist propaganda. It was only after I moved to Canada that I discovered what it meant to think freely, to use my own mind, and to live without fear of arbitrary punishment or reprisal.
She has also taken to Twitter to express her displeasure with the communist regime:
I’m in Hong Kong, but the Chinese government has barred me from getting the next flight to Sanya for Miss World. #AfraidOfABeautyQueen
— Anastasia Lin (@AnastasiaLinTO) November 26, 2015
The other competitors in the Miss World competition have arrived; the tournament’s publicity statements have excluded any mention of Lin’s struggle to arrive at the pageant and instead have been promoting the event as an evening of glamour devoid of any political messages:
— Miss World (@MissWorldLtd) November 23, 2015
Lin was crowned Miss World Canada in May and, shortly following her victory, told the press that her father had warned her to stop making political statements against the communist government in public. In a column published by the Washington Post in June, Lin wrote that she lost touch with her father because he “is afraid to speak to me.” “Many Chinese rights advocates have had similar experiences. Even after they immigrate to the West, the Communist Party uses their family members in China as leverage to silence and intimidate them,” she writes, noting that she laments the distance from her family but, “If I allow myself to be intimidated, then I am complicit in continued human rights abuses.”
In May, the Canadian government congratulated Lin on her victory, supporting her statements against the Chinese government. “Canada commends Ms. Lin for her efforts to raise awareness regarding these issues… Canada is also concerned about allegations that the Chinese government have harassed Ms. Lin’s family in China,” Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Amy Mills told The Globe and Mail at the time.
Lin is also an active practitioner of Falun Gong, a belief system and lifestyle described as “a mixture of Chinese yoga with philosophy drawn from Buddhism, Taoism and the often unorthodox teachings of Li Hongzhi, its founder.” Falun Gong practitioners have long been persecuted by the Chinese government, which considers the group a deviant cult and a threat to social order. In a statement on the matter, for example, the Chinese Embassy in America described the group as a cult in which its leader “entices his disciples with the bait of physical fitness, brainwashes his followers with his heretical ideas and intimidates Falun Gong practitioners with his ‘super powers.'”
Lin has publicly echoed protests by Falun Gong practitioners in China that they are subjected to some of the most heinous human rights abuses the government commits, including “systematically arresting, torturing, and in some cases harvesting internal organs from a pool of 100 million existing Falun Gong practitioners for profit.” A number of studies conducted by independent journalists have found that the Chinese government may be using Falun Gong prisoners to harvest organs and sell them to wealthy buyers in need of transplants, in addition to beatings and torture also documented against political prisoners not participating in the Falun Gong belief system.