Canadians hoping that 2015 would be the year they finally win a Miss World competition are going to be disappointed.
Why? Because China – this year’s host country – is said to be refusing a visa for their candidate. While the other competitors have their visas and are ready to travel to Sanya on Hainan Island next week, Anastasia Lin – who was born in China – is still waiting for her paperwork. “This is definitely not just an administrative error. I sort of expected there would be some kind of trouble,” she told the LA Times this week.
What could the diminutive model (and actress) have done to incur the wrath of the Chinese authorities? Quite a lot, it turns out. Lin, who left China when she was 13, is a member of a spiritual movement banned by the Chinese government. She is also an active campaigner for religious freedoms and human rights, regularly speaking out about abuses in China.
For example, at recent US Congressional hearings, Lin said she wanted to use her role as Miss Canada “to speak for those in China that are beaten, burned and electrocuted for holding to their beliefs”.
An earlier report in the Global Times warned its readers to be “vigilant”about Lin – whose Chinese name is Lin Yefan – saying she is a mouthpiece of religious groups intent on discrediting the land of her birth.
“In five months she is coming to China to actively provoke trouble. Some people in Canada want to turn this non-political event into a stage for anti-Chinese forces. The Chinese public and government must be prepared,” it said.
The pageant’s organisers aren’t accustomed to allegations of subversion among the swimsuits. But Lin refuses to be cowed. “This is a moment when we show those who are trying to silence us who we are,” she said in an interview this week. “If everyone involved took a stance on this issue, I don’t think China would dare to bully.”
Miss World bosses say they have no control over who gets a visa. Speaking to the LA Times, a lawyer for the organisation said it is the entrants’ responsibility to make sure they meet the requirements for travel to the host country. “When Miss World was held in the London last year, there were several contestants who were not eligible for a UK visa and therefore they were unable to take part. If we cancel or move the show each time a visa was not granted for a contestant then it would be impossible to plan the event,” the legal representative explained.
If Lin doesn’t make it to Sanya by November 21, she will be automatically disqualified. And already it seems she is being quietly phased out of the competition (her photo is absent from the official website). Obviously Beijing’s fear is she’ll elect to use her time at the microphone to denigrate China’s leaders rather than smile and talk more generically about her hopes for world peace. Should she be excluded from the December 19 pageant, rather than watch it on TV, she might take solace from rereading her favourite book, Plato’s Republic.
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