You know, when I started a comedy show that exposes the things that the Chinese Communist Party wants to keep under wraps, I never imagined I would spend so much time talking about beauty queens. Specifically, Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin.
We know her, we love her. And she…at least knows who I am. I mean, she’s been on my show.
What’s awesome is that she’s been using her Miss World platform to expose human rights atrocities in China. Now you’d think Miss World would be proud of someone like Anastasia Lin. The UK-based Miss World beauty pageant isn’t just about looks. After all, their motto is “Beauty with a Purpose.” They even got rid of the swimsuit competition. As Miss World’s chairman Julia Morley said in an interview with Elle Magazine, “I don’t care if someone has a bottom two inches bigger than someone else’s. We are really not looking at her bottom. We are really listening to her speak.”
That’s a nice sentiment—if it were true.
Because when the bottom in question is Miss World’s bottom line, speaking suddenly gets more complicated. You see, all of the Miss World organization’s sponsors appear to be Chinese companies. I know it’s a little hard to see there because it’s really tiny and they put it all the way at the bottom of their site. You know, the way you do when you’re really, really proud of your sponsors.
Since 2003, the Miss World finals have been held in China 7 times, mostly in the city of Sanya. And Sanya has put a lot of money into Miss World, including a $31 million dollar investment into infrastructure for the pageant. Last year, Sanya paid Miss World 4.8 million dollars to host the finals in their city, and let them keep 100 percent of the broadcasting fees paid by TV networks outside China.
That’s right. In 2015, China refused to grant Anastasia a visa, calling her “persona non grata.” And Chinese public security officers harassed her father, who still lives in China, and eventually bankrupted his company.
What did the Miss World organization do? I mean, what could they do, am I right? Their hands were tied. It’s not their fault if a contestant somehow violated the host country’s regulations! What were they going to do, speak up for her?
It wasn’t all bad though. The media firestorm gave Anastasia a new platform to speak about human rights, and she did: at places like Oxford University, the National Press Club, and the Oslo Freedom Forum. She spoke to the British Parliament, testified in front of Congress, and met the Dalai Lama.
And she’s also starring in a movie that was just released, called the Bleeding Edge–a thriller about Western companies taking huge sums of money to help China censor its citizens, and the cover up of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.
I bet that movie’s banned in China. Download it on iTunes while you still can.
Plus Miss World Canada, the quasi-independent Canadian division of the organization, which stood up for Anastasia Lin in the first place, decided to extend her title an extra year. That way, she can compete in this year’s finals—which fortunately are being held in Washington, DC—not China.
Anyway, Miss Lin goes to Washington, and everything goes smoothly after that. (Chris dusts off his hands)
Well if that were true, you wouldn’t be watching this episode right now. You see, the Miss World organization is now itself actively silencing Anastasia Lin.
Pageant Silences Beauty Queen, a Critic of China, at U.S. Contest
According to the New York Times, “Pageant employees warned her that she would be ejected from the competition if she spoke to reporters.”
When a Boston Globe reporter took some initiative and intercepted her in her hotel lobby, Miss World officials hustled her away while accusing her of causing trouble. (Pull Quote “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.” https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/12/13/miss-world-promotes-beauty-with-purpose-but-not-that-purpose-upsets-china/l8ZZOZZUQOs6SuNUbV9PVK/story.html)
Which is funny, because Chinese media have been given full access to interview the contestants.
The Miss World organization even tried to block a U.S. State Department official who wanted to meet with Anastasia Lin. (corner box David Saperstein U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/235915.htm)
They finally agreed, but only on the condition that they got to play chaperone during the meeting. And they forbid the State Department from tweeting about the meeting. Can they even do that?
Plus, Miss World denied Anastasia permission to go to the premiere of the Bleeding Edge in Washington DC.
So a British-owned beauty pageant is preventing a Canadian beauty queen from talking about Chinese human rights abuses on American soil. (pause) It really is Miss World.
It’s not clear if the Miss World organization is censoring Anastasia because they’ve been pressured by the Chinese government or their Chinese sponsors, or if they’re just worried about possibly being pressured or losing money. But it is clear that the organization itself is doing the censoring. They can’t blame it on the hosting country’s visa requirements this time.
But it looks like things have changed. Just one day after everyone from the New York Times to Cosmo reported on Anastasia being silenced, she’s suddenly allowed to speak to the media again. And even attend her movie premiere.
I guess bad PR can really turn things around. You know, many companies are craven enough to self-censor or censor others to appease the Chinese Communist Party for Chinese money. And sometimes the only thing we can do is to call them out on it. Good old fashioned public shaming. I don’t often say this, but bravo, media, for covering this.
But you know what, I think Anastasia could use an even bigger megaphone. Who could we get to talk about this? Let’s see…it would have to be someone who has experience with beauty pageants, who likes using social media, who enjoys shaming people, and who angers Chinese officials with big symbolic gestures…
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Donald Trump doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to beauty queens. But I still think he should meet with Anastasia. Not in a dressing room, and possibly with a chaperone. But he is about the be the leader of the free world. He likes to do things that are out-of-the-box. He does read Twitter. And that meeting might just make Chinese officials explode.
So seriously. Whether you love him or hate him, tweet at Donald Trump right now.
Tell him “Meet with Beauty Queen #AnastasiaLin to talk about China.” Be sure to copy @ChinaUncensored so I can see your tweets. And after you’ve done that, leave your comments below and tell me what you think of this whole thing. Now get on Twitter and send a message to Trump.