Citing Political Reasons, Miss Canada Denied Entry to China

Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin poses for photo at the departure hall of Hong Kong Airport in Hong Kong, China November 27. Tyrone Liu/Reuters

Anastasia Lin, recently coronated as Miss Canada, was denied a visa and access to the island of Hainan, in China, for the opening ceremony of the Miss World contest. The snub especially hit home, given that the Chinese-born Lin is a fervent human rights advocate for China, and believes that her activism is what caused the refusal.

In a statement she'd prepared before the trip, Lin said: "The Chinese government has barred me from the competition for political reasons. They are trying to punish me for my beliefs and prevent me from speaking out about human rights issues."

The New York Times reports the Chinese authorities that had been tipped off about her trip, and were prepared to deny her flying to Hainan from Hong Kong. Right before boarding, a Chinese official told her that she wouldn't be given a visa upon arriving to Hainan, prompting her to be stuck in limbo.

Over the phone, Lin told the Times that she found it "kind of sad" that authorities had felt threatened by her presence. "I mean, I'm just an acting student and a beauty queen," she said. "What could they possibly be so afraid of?"

On Thursday, Ottawa's Chinese Embassy released a statement saying: "China welcomes all lawful activities organized in China by international organizations or agencies, including the Miss World pageant. But China does not allow any persona non grata to come to China." They have yet to comment on the status of Lin's visa.

Historically, China has been dismissive of creatives, religious leaders, academics and artists who are critical of the country and its politics, notably Ai Wei Wei, whose passport was taken away from him in 2011. People who take firm stances on human rights, such as Harrison Ford and Christian Bale, have are not welcome in China, either.

Lin, who now resides in Toronto, immigrated to Canada as a teenager. She said that after winning Miss World Canada, authorities paid her father, who still resides in China, a visit in order to dissuade her from traveling to China.

As CBC notes, another point of contention stems from the fact that Lin practices and is encouraging of Falun Gong, a type of meditation practice that has been banned in China since 1999. In July, she spoke at a U.S. congressional hearing saying that thousands of people practicing Falun Gong have been killed in the past for organ harvesting purposes.

Lin is the second beauty pageant contestant in the past month to tick China off. A contestant from Taiwan participating in the Miss Earth competition was ousted after she refused to wear a sash reading "Miss Chinese Taipei," which would be acknowledging that Taiwan is a part of China, instead opting for the independent "Miss Taiwan ROC."

The irony is that in attempting to quietly bar her from the contest, China has effectively made Lin's name a household one, thanks to the Internet. Her voice is now more resonant than ever, and she's gained thousands of supporters worldwide.

But Lin has yet to gain support from two critical places: the Miss World Organization, and the Canadian government. The administration, led by new prime minister Justin Trudeau, has been mum on the matter. The Miss World Organization won't budge either, keeping requests for comment silent and letting Lin advocate on her own. It appears that Lin has made her bed and is now expected to lie in it, in the words of Courtney Love's aptly entitled song "Miss World."

Lin said that the organization is letting her compete next year, however.