Hong Kong, Nov 27: Canada's Chinese-born Miss World contender was stuck in Hong Kong on Thursday after being banned from taking a flight bound for mainland China, where the beauty pageant will take place.
Anastasia Lin, a 25-year-old actress crowned Miss World Canada in May, said China was blocking her from travelling to the seaside resort city of Sanya for the contest to be held on December 19 because of her human rights activism.
"They're sending this message to every Chinese or every brave person who dare to speak their minds... they want to show people that this is what you get when you speak up," Lin told AFP late today.
The beauty queen has actively denounced human rights abuses in China, both on film and in public comments, notably its persecution of practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual group banned in mainland China.
Herself a practitioner of Falun Gong -- which emerged in the 1990s combining Taoist philosophy, meditation and qigong exercises -- Lin testified in July at a US congressional hearing on religious persecution in China.
She told US lawmakers she "wanted to speak for those in China that are beaten, burned and electrocuted for holding to their beliefs -- people in prison who eat rotten food with blistered fingers because they dare have convictions."
Despite not receiving an invitation letter from the Chinese organisers of the event, Lin decided to travel to Sanya, where tourists can apply for a visa on arrival, but was not allowed to board a connecting flight at Hong Kong international airport.
"I graduated from university this June, I'm 25 years old, I work as an actress, I do not pose a threat of any kind," she said. "I'm representing my own country in this competition... if they're discriminating a country's representative without giving a reasonable answer then how is China fit to host this kind of international competition?"
Chinese authorities had declared Lin a "persona non grata", Canadian paper The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday.
"Which superpower would take the trouble to declare a 25-year-old theatre student as a persona non grata?" Lin told AFP in response. "I'm not here to provoke anything. I'm really just here because I sincerely want to take part in the pageant."