After the 2016 edition of the Miss World beauty pageant kicked off in late November, Anastasia Lin, the reigning Miss World Canada who wouldn’t stop speaking up on human rights issues, suddenly went quiet.
Lin’s silence soon grew deafening.
Reporters, curious as to why a contestant who ran her campaign on the platform of a less talked about rights violation—organ harvesting in China—abruptly appeared to turn coy, started investigating.
Like many other reporters (including this one), Jeff Jacoby with the Boston Globe had tried to schedule an interview with Lin through the proper channel, that is, the Miss World organization. Like the other reporters, Jacoby was “stonewalled” by the pageant.
Jacoby journeyed to Washington D.C. where the Miss World contest is being held, and met Lin openly in her hotel lobby. Within minutes, Miss World staff spotted them. Lin was escorted away by two staff members. Another staff member told Jacoby that they would arrange for an interview session the following day—but the interview never happened.
Jacoby wrote about trying to speak with Lin in Dec. 13 article, and other media outlets shared their own unsuccessful experience in getting connected with the reigning Miss World Canada. It appeared that Miss World staff had also accompanied Lin when she met with U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein, and the staff had prevailed upon the State Department not to tweet about the meeting.
Journalists criticized the Miss World organization for attempting to silence the outspoken beauty queen. They pointed out that many of Miss World’s sponsors are Chinese companies, and suggested that the Chinese regime was influencing a beauty pageant in the capital of America, a country most associate with freedom and democracy.
The day after news media broke the story of a silenced Anastasia Lin, the pageant responded.
Julia Morley, CEO of the Miss World organization, told the Hollywood Reporter Lin “had always been free to attend” the U.S. premiere of “The Bleeding Edge,” a film by a Peabody Award-winning director that Lin has a starring role in; Lin had earlier been blocked from the Dec. 14 event, according to the Wall Street Journal.
So when Lin spoke to the New York Times, it seemed like the media had just successfully carried out its version of the Berlin Airlift.
“I can now speak freely to the media,” Lin said over the telephone. “Miss World is doing their best to give us a platform and help us to achieve our potential.”
Lin said that the pageant never tried to censor her, or instruct her on what to say previously. Miss World had only just opened their press office on Dec. 14, and they didn’t yet set up media interviews for any of the contestants.
“They told me that none of the girls were able to speak, so they think that it’s not just me,” she said. (However, this reporter has observed that at least one contestant, Miss World Germany, had given an interview on Dec. 6.)
Lin has spent the last two years as an activist beauty queen. She won the Miss World Canada crown in 2015, but after being denied the opportunity to take part in the pageant in Sanya, China, because of her outspokenness on human rights, she was given the chance to represent Canada again in this year’s pageant.
She has since visited the Dalai Lama, and made speeches in D.C. and Westminster about human rights and the Chinese regime’s harvesting of organs from prisoners of conscience—most of whom are believed to be practitioners of the spiritual practice Falun Gong. Lin herself practices Falun Gong.
During the process, she learned that “people grow up in different environments, and have very different opinions … trying to convince someone of an idea is almost impossible.”
But she found that there are “certain things that are universal … so if we focus on compassion and kindness, we’ll probably have a lot less conflicts.” Just as important are the vulnerable people of the world, who shouldn’t be left “completely voiceless.”
Lin said she is also grateful to her fans and supporters for their encouragement, and even donations—Lin had to turn to crowdfunding to finance her bid for the Miss World crown because the pageant presently isn’t sponsoring contestants.
The Miss World finale on Dec. 18 ought to be the only thing on Lin’s mind now. But she can’t help being troubled by her father’s plight in China. Lin moved to Canada with her mother when she was 13.
The Chinese regime has been harassing Lin’s father since she won the Miss World Canada crown in 2015, and “in the past year his business has been ruined, basically.”
“His company used to have hundreds of employees, but right now he has only two left,” Lin said. “And the banks have started suing him and his business partner.”
“He’s been pressured to the point of self harm.”