Hi everyone, all of your support has been amazing. Thank you so much. Here is my statement to the press today.
As you know, I arrived in Hong Kong yesterday en route to Sanya, where I hoped to take my place representing Canada at the Miss World Final.
I did not receive a visa in advance like the other contestants did. But Sanya is a special place: citizens of certain countries—including Canada—are allowed to obtain a landing visa upon their arrival. So that was my plan.
Unfortunately, I was not allowed to get on the plane. I had a phone interview yesterday with a Sanya customs official. During the interview, the agent asked questions to ascertain my identity, and once he confirmed that it was me, he told me that I am not eligible to go to Sanya. I did not get any further explanation as to why I can’t travel there.
I knew this was a possibility. I knew I might be turned away at any point in this process.
But I needed a definitive answer. Until yesterday, I had not been denied a visa by the Chinese government, and I had not been disqualified from the competition. It seemed that the Chinese government’s strategy was to just not give me an answer and wait out the clock.
I have also read that the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa told the Globe and Mail that I was persona non grata in China. I have been provided with no explanation as to why, nor is it clear why they made this clarification only at this late stage when I was already en route to Hong Kong.
I knew there was big a risk I would be barred. But I didn’t want to give up unless I had exhausted all my options. I owe it to all the people who have supported me on this journey to at least try.
If there is any indication that Sanya authorities might change their mind and let me in, I will certainly try again. And I would ask you, as members of the media, to press for answers.
Ask the Chinese government why it is afraid of a beauty queen.
Ask them what kind of precedent this sets for future international events.
Ask them whether they will also bar athletes from participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics if they hold views that the Communist Party disagrees with. If an athlete is of Tibetan or Uyghur heritage, and advocates for the human rights of those peoples, can they compete in the Olympics? What if they practice Falun Gong? Or if they support democracy in China?
But don’t stop with asking them questions about my case alone.
Ask them why they won’t let human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng visit a dentist after he lost most of his teeth due to torture.
Ask them how it is that Chinese hospitals perform tens of thousands of organ transplants, even though voluntary organ donation is virtually non-existent, and the numbers of official executions in China is far from sufficient to supply this quantity.
Ask them why they don’t trust their own people to be able to read uncensored information.
Ask why they imprison, torture, and kill grandmothers for practicing meditation.
I believe the Chinese government is angry with me because I have tried to bring attention to these types of issues in my work.
As an actress, I’ve performed in film and television projects that depict contemporary issues in China, from corruption to media control to religious suppression.
And when the Chinese government tried to intimidate me by pressuring my father in China, I spoke out more. I wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post exposing their tactics.
This summer, I testified before U.S. Congress about the Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, who have been imprisoned, tortured and killed on a massive scale. I described the torture methods used against them: shocks with electric batons, bamboo forced under their fingernails, sexual assault, the “tiger bench.” And I called attention to reports that tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience have been killed so their organs can be sold for profit.
If the Communist Party doesn’t want their shameful conduct exposed, the solution is not to imprison people. It is not to censor the internet and deny entry to beauty pageant contestants. It’s much more simple: just stop doing shameful things.
Until that happens, I will continue to speak for those who are oppressed.
And I hope you’ll join me.
To news agencies: when the Chinese government threatens to withhold visas for your journalists if you report honestly and critically about human rights abuses, don’t give in. Don’t compromise your coverage. Expose them. Take a stand. Don’t let them believe that your integrity is for sale. You owe it not only to yourselves and your readers, but to the Chinese people whose stories are waiting to be told.
To international organizations looking to work with China or host events there: don’t let them set terms that conflict with your values. If the Chinese Communist Party wants to deny people from your events as punishment for their religion or ethnicity or political views, take a stand.
If we all do this, we might be able to affect real change.