Anastasia Lin, a Canadian beauty pageant queen, was prevented from attending last year’s Miss World Pageant in China by Chinese authorities. Lin, an outspoken critic of alleged Chinese human rights abuses, was pleased to hear she would be allowed to take part in the competition’s 2016 finals in suburban Washington — in spite of the London-based pageant’s strong ties to Chinese sponsors. During the pageant, which is being held in Washington, D.C., Lin has found herself barred from speaking to any news media whatsoever — in one case, a Boston Globe columnist reported that an attempted interview with Lin was interrupted by pageant officials who “angrily [accused] her of breaching the rules and causing trouble.”
Marion Smith, the executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said that Miss World officials lied to him about relaying messages to Lin about the American premiere of The Bleeding Edge, a film featuring Lin that documents China’s alleged practice of harvesting the organs of Chinese prisoners of conscience — among them practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that the Chinese government considers “an evil cult.” Lin, who was born in China but immigrated to Canada at 13, is herself a Falun Gong practitioner and has been outspoken against human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese government.
Jacob Wallenberg, a friend of Lin’s, said that the beauty queen had been told she would be ejected from the competition if she were found to have spoken to reporters. “They have specifically told her not to talk about human rights during the pageant, even though that is her official platform,” said Wallenberg. “She is very frustrated.”
According to Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch, the Chinese government has not been shy about restricting people’s speech on issues they deem important — no matter where in the world one may be.
“Whether it’s choosing what movies you get to see or what information can be censored online, Chinese authorities are increasingly trying to insist that the restrictions they impose at home become the norm abroad,” explained Richardson. “That they deem it necessary to try to manipulate international beauty pageants would be puzzling or quirky if it weren’t indicative of a far more serious pathology.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.