Anastasia Lin was born in China, but moved to Canada when she was 13, and has since become a Canadian citizen. For the past two years, she's been chosen to represent Canada in the Miss World competition, but some weird and scary stuff has happened to her in the process.
Last year, the competition took place in China, but Lin was blocked from entering the country by Chinese authorities, according to the New York Times. Lin is again a finalist in the Miss World contest, which this year is in Washington, D.C. She's not allowed to talk to reporters without risking getting kicked out of the pageant. Lin is in a movie, The Bleeding Edge, but she's being kept from attending the U.S. premiere.
Why is this happening? Lin, 26, is an actress and human rights activist on top of being a pageant queen, and she has been a vocal critic of the Chinese government's human rights abuses. Her father has been a victim of harassment in China; U.S. State Department officials requested a meeting with Lin to discuss her father's situation, according to the Times, but she was not permitted to attend the meeting without a pageant chaperone.
A friend of Lin's told the Times that pageant officials "have specifically told her not to talk about human rights during the pageant, even though that is her official platform. She is very frustrated."
When a Boston Globe reporter attempted to interview Lin, the Miss World organization did not respond to his requests. He met up with Lin in person in Washington, where they spoke in her hotel lobby.
A Miss World employee saw us talking, and demanded an explanation. I began to answer, but Lin cut me off with the unvarnished truth: “This is a writer from The Boston Globe who came down to Washington to talk to me.” The employee instantly called in reinforcements. Soon there were three officials. Two of them hustled Lin from the lobby, angrily accusing her of breaching the rules and causing trouble. The third blocked me from talking to Lin, and assured me that my interview would be scheduled the next day. It wasn’t, of course.
The Times notes that the pageant's main sponsors are Chinese companies, while the Globestates that Miss World gets paid millions of dollars in licensing fees by Sanya, the Chinese city that has hosted the contest six times. The pageant, in silencing Lin, is "doing the bidding of the Chinese government," which referred to Lin indirectly as "persona non grata" when she was kept from entering the country last year.
None of this has truly kept Lin silent. She has found other platforms for her advocacy and the spotlight on her only seems to be getting bigger as the attempts at censorship get more aggressive.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.