Canada’s China-born Miss World contestant was stopped in Hong Kong on Thursday and denied permission to board a flight to the beauty pageant finals in China, a move she said was punishment for speaking out against human rights abuses in the country.
Anastasia Lin, a Toronto actress crowned Miss World Canada in May, was unable to obtain a visa in advance of her arrival for the contest finals this week in Sanya, on the southern Chinese resort island of Hainan.
But she said she attempted to enter the country anyway based on a rule that allows Canadian citizens to obtain a landing visa upon arrival in Sanya.
While she cleared customs in Hong Kong, she was not allowed to board her next flight to Sanya, according to a friend, Caylan Ford, who released a statement from Lin.
“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,” Lin said in the statement, prepared before her departure.
Lin testified at a US Congressional hearing on religious persecution in China in July. In her testimony, 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.
Lin, 25, said this month that her father had been harassed by Chinese officials after she spoke out about human rights abuses in the communist country.
Asked about Lin’s case, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he had “no information to provide” about her case. He did not elaborate.
Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said that Lin was not welcome in China, a Canadian newspaper reported on Wednesday.
“China does not allow any persona non grata to come to China,” Yundong Yang, an embassy spokesman, told the Globe and Mail. “I simply do not understand why some people pay special attention to this matter and have raised it repeatedly.”
The Miss World pageant organizers said in an email they had no information as to why a visa was not granted.
“Where possible, when a contestant is unable to obtain a visa to enter the host country, then they may be offered a place in the following year’s competition,” Miss World added, suggesting Lin will be able to compete in 2016.