Canada’s China-born Miss World entry has accused Chinese officials of harassing her father and trying to block her from taking part in the contest’s final, being held in the country, after she spoke out about human rights abuses.
Anastasia Lin, an actor who was crowned Miss World Canada in May, said unlike other contestants she had not been sent her invitation letter to the final, in the resort of Sanya on 19 December, which means she cannot apply for her travel visa.
Lin testified at a US congressional hearing on religious persecution in China in July. She said she wanted to “speak for those in China that are beaten, burned and electrocuted for holding to their beliefs”, according to the text of her statement on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s website.
“I was interested in human rights way before I even thought of beauty pageants,” Lin, 25, told Reuters on Tuesday.
Lin said finalists from other countries had received their invitation from the Chinese host venue that allows them to apply for a visa to attend the finals, but she has received no letter and believes China is trying to block her from the event.
Reuters was not able to independently confirm whether other finalists had received their invitation letters.
“I don’t think this is an administrative issue. It is not. I think this is a matter of principle,” said Lin, who also is a practitioner of Falun Gong, a spiritual group banned in mainland China.
Officials from the Miss World organisation were not immediately available to comment, and a Canadian contest official did not return calls.
A spokesman at Canada’s foreign ministry said Ottawa was aware of Lin’s case but could not comment on Chinese visa decisions. “Canada is committed to constructive engagement with China on human rights, which is a core component of our governance cooperation with China,” said François Lasalle.
Falun Gong was banned in 1999 after thousands of members gathered in central Beijing to protest near the Communist party headquarters. Members of the group say more than 3,300 Chinese Falun Gong practitioners have died in prison or from abuse in a decade-long crackdown.
Lin, who moved to Canada with her mother when she was 13, said her father was contacted by Chinese officials after her victory in the Canadian contest brought attention to her campaign against Chinese repression of Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong practitioners.
“A few days after [I won], he sent me a text message saying ’You have to stop your human rights work right now, otherwise our family is going to be turned on’, like in the cultural revolution. The security agent had approached him, [my father] said.”.
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