December 2, 2007 / 5:52 AM / in 10 years

China cheers first Miss World title

<p>Miss China Zhang Zilin reacts after been crowned as Miss World 2007 in Sanya on the Chinese island of Hainan December 1, 2007.Nir Elias</p>

BEIJING (Reuters) - China gave a cheer to its first Miss World on Sunday, with Internet chat rooms filled with praise for the 23-year-old beauty queen.

Zhang Zilin, a Beijing secretary who was born in the gritty northern industrial city of Shijiazhuang, scooped the title late on Saturday on the southern Chinese resort island of Hainan.

A blog by Zhang on the Web portal Sina.com had over 1 million hits as of Sunday, with many fans posting their congratulations.

"You've brought honor to our country! We're all happy for you! We're proud for China!" wrote a fan named "Tango."

<p>Miss China Zhang Zilin reacts after been crowned as Miss World 2007 in Sanya on the Chinese island of Hainan December 1, 2007.Nir Elias</p>

Long frowned upon by Beijing's Communist leadership, beauty pageants and other such contests have become hugely popular over the past several years. Many local television stations organize contests for everything from amateur TV anchors to models to American Idol-style singing contests.

Still, the government has tried to keep a check on them, banning television talent shows in prime time and telling anchors and contestants not to behave provocatively.

<p>Miss China Zhang Zilin reacts after been crowned as Miss World 2007 in Sanya on the Chinese island of Hainan December 1, 2007.Nir Elias</p>

Newspapers ran only brief reports on Zhang's conquest.

The front page of the Beijing News, a popular daily in the capital, was dominated by a large photo of a migrant worker taking part in an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, with a much smaller photo of Zhang at the bottom of the page.

Micaela Reis of Angola came second and Carolina Moran Gordillo of Mexico was third, according to the pageant's Web site.

Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Writing by Jason Subler

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