Canada's Miss World aspirant to keep mum on rights if let into China: organizer

Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:54am EST
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - The chief executive of Miss World Canada said on Thursday its finalist in the beauty pageant, a human rights activist, has agreed not to speak about rights abuses in China if she is allowed in for the finals of the competition.

Canada's China-born contestant, Anastasia Lin, said this week her visa to travel to the pageant at a Chinese resort had been delayed, and her father harassed by Chinese officials, after she spoke out about human rights abuses in the communist country.

Ike Lalji, the chairman and chief executive of Miss World Canada, said he had assured officials at the pageant's London headquarters that Lin would focus on the contest and not "her cause" if she was allowed to attend the Dec. 19 contest final in Sanya, China.

"I guarantee if she goes there she will just focus on the competition, she will not get involved in her cause," Lalji said in a telephone interview. "It's a compromise."

But Lin, an actress and Falun Gong practitioner crowned Miss World Canada in May, said she had not agreed to be silent about human rights abuses.

"They can't guarantee anything without getting me involved, and this is the first time I've heard of this," Lin, 25, said in a telephone interview. "I have never agreed to such a thing."

Lalji said he has had no contact with Chinese officials or the Chinese host of the final contest. He is giving assurances of Lin's cooperation to Miss World officials in London, and they are in contact with China to try to win Lin's invitation letter.

"They are the ones communicating with the ministry of foreign affairs in China," Lalji said.   Continued...

Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin poses with her crown before an interview at her home in Toronto, Ontario November 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Chris Helgren