Miss Vietnam Defends Sarah Rose Summers's Criticism of Her Language Skills: 'Thank You Miss USA for Taking Care of Me'

Days before the 2018 Miss Universe pageant, Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers stoked controversy by questioning the English language skills of her fellow competitors.

In Instagram footage widely shared online, Summers claimed Miss Vietnam, H'Hen Nie, and Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat, have limited knowledge of English.

Read more: The co-founder of Mrs. America was accused of racially insensitive comments by pageant contestants

But Nie responded to the remarks with open arms, defending Summers's comments to CNN Friday. "Everyone in this competition, myself included, loves and respects one another," she said.

"When she knew about my difficulties with (the English) language, she took an interest and showed me love. That's why she knows about that. Thank you Miss USA for taking care of me, showing me love and helping me recently."

In the controversial footage, Summers asked Miss Colombia, Valeria Morales Delgado, and Miss Australia, Francesca Hung: "What do you think of Miss Vietnam, Nie?" "Fashion, that's the word," replied Morales Delgado. "She's so cute," added Hung.

"She's so cute and she pretends to know so much English, and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she goes [nods and smiles]," Summers said before laughing. "She's adorable."

Sarah Rose Summers, Miss USA, Miss Universe, Beauty Pageant
Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers visits the Build Studio on May 23, 2018 in New York City. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Later in the footage, Summers brought up Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat. "Miss Cambodia is here and doesn't speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language. Can you imagine?" she said. "Francesca said that would be so isolating and I said yes and just confusing all the time."

"Poor Cambodia," she added.

After facing a backlash online for her comments, Summers published an apology on Instagram, writing: "[Miss Universe] is an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other's cultures, life experiences, and views. We all come from different backgrounds and can grow alongside one another," alongside a photo of a group of contestants embracing.

"In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize. My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman," she continued.

"I would never intend to hurt another. I am grateful for opportunities to speak with Nat, Miss Cambodia, and H'Hen, Miss Vietnam, directly about this experience. These are the moments that matter most to me."

Summers' mother, Desiree, later told TMZ: "She in no way meant any harm. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body."

She also defended Summer's impression of Nie, saying: "[She] was just recreating how Miss Vietnam acts when she doesn't understand what someone is saying. She wasn't trying to mock her."

This year's Miss Universe pageant will take place December 17 in Bangkok, Thailand.

This article has been updated to include comment from H'Hen Nie.

Miss Vietnam Defends Sarah Rose Summers's Criticism of Her Language Skills: 'Thank You Miss USA for Taking Care of Me' | U.S.