Dec 4, 2015

Beauty queen accuses Ottawa of letting China 'bully' her

Josh Elliott
December 4, 2015

A Canadian beauty queen and supporter of Falun Gong says the Canadian government has failed to stand up for her, after she was denied entry into China for a pageant.

Anastasia Lin, the 2015 winner of the Miss World Canada competition, says she's being "bullied" by China for her public support of Falun Gong, a religion that is banned by the Chinese government. The Chinese-born Canadian added that she's disappointed the Liberal government didn't defend her "right" to compete in an international beauty pageant, hosted in China.

Lin flew to Hong Kong earlier this week and was delayed five-and-a-half hours from getting on another flight into Sanya, China. She says a Chinese official eventually spoke with her on the phone and asked for her name and place of birth, then immediately rejected her landing visa. "They told me right away on the phone that I am not eligible to go to China," Lin told CTV's Canada AM on Friday. "I asked why. They told me there is no reason. No reason was given."

Anastasia Lin, winner of the Miss World Canada pageant, appears on CTV's Canada AM Friday, Dec. 4, 2015.

"This is a matter of principle," Lin said. "When a Canadian tries to speak up for what she believes is right within a Canadian border, and gets punished by a foreign government and barred from international contests, that's not right. And when our government doesn't speak up, it sends the wrong message to the Chinese community."

The beauty queen suggested China is setting a dangerous precedent by denying her entry to compete. With the 2022 Winter Olympics set to run in Beijing, Lin raised the possibility that China might deny Canadian athletes entry into the country, based on their political beliefs.

"When they speak their mind, they might also be barred from entering China, and our government's not going to back them up," she said.

Global Affairs Canada (formerly the Department of Foreign Affairs) told CTV News that it respects other countries' rights to control their own borders. "It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter and who is allowed to exit," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Lin has felt pressure from the Chinese government in the past. Earlier this year, Lin said the Chinese government threatened her father, who still lives in China, after she won the Miss World Canada contest.

The pressure on her father has relaxed in recent months, Lin says. However, the Chinese media occasionally publish scathing editorials about Lin, and that makes life hard for her father.

"Right now he does sound worried, but he doesn't sound as tense as before, when he got threatened," she said.

Lin says she knows she's not popular in China, but she didn't think she'd be turned away at the border.

"I just didn't think that they were going to do this," she said.

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