Monday, December 26, 2016

Canada's Anastasia Lin finally has her day and say in Miss World contest

Anastasia Lin testified in U.S. Congressional hearings about China's repression of Falun Gong followers.
IT TOOK an international controversy and a year's time, but Miss Canada, Anastasia Lin, finally got to participate in the Miss World contest after being denied by Chinese sponsors last year.
After the Chinese authorities blocked the Canadian beauty queen Anastasia Lin from attending the 65th annual Miss World pageant in China last year, the event’s British organizers offered her a consolation prize, of sorts: They allowed her a chance to compete in the 2016 finals, which was held in Washington, D.C.
Her participation hinged on the condition that she not be allowed to speak to the media during the contest. Pressure from international media is what finally prompted the pageant to let Anastasia speak.
“It was very scary and startling,” Lin said of her silencing. “I now feel more for the people who can’t speak up in repressive countries.”
Lin gained international attention last year because of her affiliation with Falun Gong, a practice not allowed in China. She was declared persona non grata by the Chinese government and barred from entering China when she tried to travel there to represent Canada in that year’s Miss World pageant.
Lin said it was her outspokenness about China's persecution of Falun Gong followers that led to her being blocked from participating int he 2015 pageant.
Using the Miss World stage to criticize the Chinese government didn’t go without consequence, however, especially since the pageant is sponsored by Chinese corporations
“Public pressure works. We have way more leverage than we think we do,” she said. “We might think that China is this big, tough bully that just doesn’t listen to anyone. But that’s not true.”

“Despite 60 years of censorship, people don’t believe everything they hear on the news,” she said, referring to Chinese reports over the past year that have sought to demonize her. “I may end up standing in the last row this year, but if they are able to see me, I hope people will be encouraged.”
“My one goal was not the tiara,” Lin said. “I just wanted to be on Chinese television. … If they can see me on stage they will know (I have not given up), so neither should they.”

Lin, a classical pianist and actress, also wanted to be seen by her father, who she said has been barred from leaving China because of her activism.
Various media outlets sought comment from the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. but their requests were not granted.

Miss World 2016 wrapped up Dec. 18, with the contestant from Puerto Rico taking the crown.

As for her pageant career, the University of Toronto grad says she’s “totally done” with it.

“It destroyed me,” she told Fashion magazine. “I’m moving on.”

Instead, Anastasia will focus on her acting career, and continue to raise awareness on human rights issues.