Canadian beauty queen Anastasia Lin criticised the Chinese government after she was denied permission to board a flight to the beauty pageant finals in China. Lin held a news conference at Hong Kong airport on 27 November, a day after she was stopped from entering China, a move she said was punishment for speaking out against human rights abuses in the country.
Lin, a 25-year-old Toronto actress who was 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.
A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa told the Globe and Mail on 25 November that Lin is categorized as a persona non grata. But Lin 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.
Lin told reporters on 27 November that she did not know she was blacklisted by China until she landed in Hong Kong. "After I landed in Hong Kong, I was told. I read on the news that I was declared persona non grata, which means I'm not welcomed to the country anymore. I am not welcomed to the place where I was born. I believe in the future things will change, and it won't be like this forever. I will not give up my hope," Lin said.
Lin is a practitioner of Falun Gong, a religious group that says it is repressed in China. She testified at a US congressional hearing on religious persecution in China in July.
Lin said earlier in November that her father had been harassed by Chinese officials after she spoke out about human rights abuses in the communist country and he has not dared to speak freely to her over the phone.
She urged journalists to ask Beijing if it will keep barring people with dissenting views from entering China for international events.
"Ask the Chinese government why is it afraid to let in a beauty queen? Ask them why, what kind of precedent this would set for future international events that it wants to host. Ask them whether they would also bar Olympic athletes from participating in the Winter Olympic Games just because they have different views that the Communist Party don't agree with? What if they are of Tibetan or Uighur origin? What if they practise Falun Gong? Or what if they support democracy in China? " Lin asked.
Asked about Lin's case, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he had "no information to provide". He did not elaborate.
Miss World pageant organizers said in an email they had no information as to why a visa was not granted to Lin, but said she may be offered a place in the 2016 Miss World contest.