Miss World Canada 'disappointed' after China bars her from pageant final

Miss World Canada says she was disappointed she could not attend the Miss World competition in China on Saturday, after she was denied entry into the country.

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Chinese-born Anastasia Lin, 25, said she was barred from boarding a flight from Hong Kong to Sanya, China last month, after her request for a visa was refused.

Lin missed the Miss World pageant finals, while Spain's Mireia Lalguna Royo was crowned the winner of the event on Saturday night.

"After I got on the phone with the (Sanya) customs officials … they told me I was not eligible for a visa but there was no explanation given," Lin told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

"I was really excited to have this chance to go back to China. I miss the people there."

Lin has been an outspoken critic of China's treatment of the spiritual group Falun Gong, which was outlawed by China as an "evil cult" 1999.

Followers of Falun Gong say China's crackdown has resulted in the deaths of thousands of practitioners.

China's laws allow for the arrest and imprisonment of anyone suspected of supporting or propagating religious movements that have not received the state's seal of approval.

"This is why the Chinese communist party did not want me to go back," said Lin.

"They did not want to see a girl who grew up in China, who bought into the Chinese communist indoctrination … appearing on Chinese television speaking for Chinese people."

After Lin won the Canadian title last May, she said her father, who still lives in China, was visited by state security agents in an alleged attempt to intimidate her into silence.

Lin moved to Vancouver with her mother after she turned 13. It was then that she realized the extent of her "indoctrination."

Lin said she has spoken out against Chinese human rights abuses because she believes that it is the right thing to do as a Canadian.

"I thought throughout this whole process I was doing what a Canadian should do: Speak my mind and support what I think is right," she said.

She added that she has been disappointed by the Canadian government's lack of response to her situation.

"When I look back, I didn’t feel a lot of support from the Canadian government, but I know it is a new government still forming its policy on China," she said.

In a statement issued later on Saturday, the press secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said that human rights are a "priority" in Canada's "long-standing relationship" with China, but did not directly address issues surrounding Lin or the Falun Gong.

"Canada is committed to constructive engagement with China on human rights, which is a core component of our governance's co-operation with China," said spokesperson Nicolas Doire.

"It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit," he added.

The Chinese government and the London-based Miss World Organization have yet to comment on the controversy.

Lin said the pageant has offered her a chance to compete in Miss World 2016, but she hasn't yet decided whether she will participate.

Despite losing a shot at the crown, Lin said it is China who truly missed out on a ground-breaking opportunity.

"It was disappointing," she said. "But I think the Chinese government is the one that should feel disappointed, because … it was a great chance for them to show the international community that they're progressing, they're improving and they can tolerate different views."

With files from The Canadian Press


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