5 Reasons Why The Miss World Canada Story Is More Significant Than We Think

China is the host for the 65th Miss World pageant. Anastasia Lin, Miss World Canada, was denied visa to enter Mainland China. Here are some reasons why I believe this story goes beyond her advocacy/disputes with the State of China:

1. Beauty pageants are put on a hot seat: why are Q&A portions in beauty pageants so short?

Photo source: AP
From the stereotyped answers of "world peace" and short paragraphs about other values, Anastasia Lin has managed to create probably the longest Q&A in beauty pageant history ever (through the press) -- and the stuff she's outspoken about actually seek to increase peace and values in the world. This shows that beauty is more than just what pageants dictate beauty should be and it's a shame that recognition of values, intellect, advocacy, etc. are very minimal.

2. “If they start to censor beauty pageants — how pathetic is that?”

There are those of us who believe that many we call human or civil rights are natural and not privileges granted by the State. From these natural rights come freedom of speech and assembly such as the freedom to practice (or not practice) a religion of your choice (as long as it is done in a civil manner that does not interfere with the liberties of others). The popular Marxist doctrine of religion being the "opium of the masses" has been interpreted many times by authoritarians as pretext to violent suppression of freedom of religion. In a country where the media is heavily regulated/censored and new media such as Facebook or Twitter are banned, Anastasia Lin makes a good point — to censor or control content of even a beauty pageant sounds ridiculous and might as well be an all time low.

3. Freedom of Religion and Her Allegations Against the State of China

Lin giving her testimony to the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China last July 2015 (Full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH8dEwLn0Js)
Her advocacy goes beyond promoting the freedom to peacefully practice her religion. In her testimony to the US congress, she claims, "tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been killed so their organs could be harvested and sold for transplants." Those are pretty wild allegations and may seem like something you'd only see in a sci-fi film. Although historically, there is worse precedent to this kind of allegations of how a State could use violence against its own people. Ron Paul once said "[freedom of speech] is not there so we can talk about the weather, it's so we can say controversial things." And this natural right is most especially important when used as civil and peaceful dissent against the State. The fact that the State of China is blatant about censorship and propaganda means there are things they do not want the outside world to see. The "economic prosperity" and freedoms you'd see in publications or if you visit as a tourist, in Macau for instance, is just the tip of the ice berg.

4. Miss World in 2002 and the story of Anima Lawal

Amina Lawal, senceted to be stoned to death in Nigeria amidst Miss World 2002 hosting of the country (photo source: The Guardian)
This is not the first controversy that this pageant has had. In 2002, the contest was held in Nigeria but many contestants boycotted the pageant because of a story of Anima Lawal who was sentenced to be stoned to death for bearing a child out of wedlock, something that Sharia Law considers as adultery and is punishable by death. She was freed from this sentence and the correlation of the boycotts and involvement of Miss World in Nigeria helped make the case known to the world. This, I believe, should pressure beauty pageants to be more than just a few hours of showcasing women dancing around in bikini shows. The reach of beauty pageants is very broad and could be a touchpoint where people increase their awareness about what's happening in the world. At the end of the day, isn't that what beauty is supposed to be? Ironically, one of the pageant's tagline is "Beauty with a purpose" and yet they've remained silent about Lin being barred to enter China.

5. Persona Non Grata in Mainland China

Lin in HK airport, denied entry to Mainland China (source: AP)
In China's statement on the issue they said, “China welcomes all lawful activities organized in China by international organizations or agencies, including the Miss World pageant. But China does not allow any persona non grata to come to China.”

The New York Times reports that celebrties such as Bon Jovi, Linkin Park and Oasis, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, etc. are also on this blacklist of being persona non grata, many of whom are just outspoken about the exiled Dalai Lama.

Again, it is a suppression of civil dissent. When you are considered to be a strong military power in the world and yet you are afraid of one woman's voice, when what she has to say may be more powerful than your bullets or missiles — then that, to me, is beauty.

Congratulations, Miss World Canada. With or without their crown, you're already a beauty queen.

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/27/world/asia/miss-world-contestant-barred-from-final-in-china-over-human-rights-advocacy.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

2. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/742986/outspoken-miss-world-canada-denied-entry-to-china
3. http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/africa/09/25/nigeria.stoning/
4. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/23/newsid_3226000/3226740.stm

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