Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don't Let The Bugs Bite

"This is a moment when we show those who are trying to silence us who we are. If everyone involved took a stance on this issue, I don't think China would dare to bully."
"I was interested in human rights way before I even thought of beauty pageants."
"I don't think this is an administrative issue. It is not. I think this is a matter of principle."
"A few days after (I won), he [father in China] sent me a text message saying, 'You have to stop your human rights work right now, otherwise our family is going to be turned on' like in the Cultural Revolution. The security agent had approached him, he said."
Anastasia Lin, 25, Toronto, Miss World Canada contestant
CHINA-CANADA/PAGEANT Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin poses with her crown after an interview at her home in Toronto Nov. 10. Lin is an actress and Falun Gong practitioner crowned Miss World Canada in May. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)
"China routinely screens out foreign visitors who say things that it doesn't want to hear. It is sufficiently big and influential that this tends to be overlooked by an international community that prizes 'engagement' with China over fairness."
David Mulroney, former Canadian ambassador to China

"Fa Lun Gong is [a] cult organization which was banned by the Chinese government according to the law."
"Chinese government banning Fa Lun Gong organization is for protecting the citizens' basic human rights and freedom and guard[ing] the constitution and the law."
Hong Lei, spokesman, Foreign Ministry, Beijing

"All the girls in the pageant are supporting some kind of cause: Human trafficking or bullying. But her cause is directly related to China, so I don't know how it will react."
Ike Lalji, chief executive officer, Miss World Canada
It is the year 2015, and beauty pageants remain popular, it seems. Where women of exceptional beauty present themselves to be judged against the observable merits of other beautiful women. This is called by feminists 'objectification' of females. But quite a lot of people take these events seriously. And seriously, are women in their mid-twenties really 'girls', as Miss World Canada's chief executive officer refers to the contestants?

China, as a sovereign country which must look to the welfare of 1.3-billion people -- and as a Communist country rules with an iron hand, while using its trade heft as a cudgel against any criticism levelled against it for human rights abuses, the most obvious of which is its occupation of Tibet and its more current threats against its neighbours in the South China Sea -- must, as Mr. Hong stated look to protecting "basic human rights and freedom", China-style.

The Chinese perspective on human rights and freedom fall under the country's constitution and the law, and if the former is inimical to the latter, the latter takes precedence. China's take on human rights does not preclude harvesting human organs of prisoners or those on death row, evidently. And its official, institutionalized antipathy toward Falun Gong practitioners extend to those practising it from abroad.

Anastasia Lin, a graduate of the University of Toronto, an actress and concert pianist, is a follower of Falun Gong. Moreover, she is an outspoken critic of official China and its spurious human rights record. This places her in an unwelcome category, one in which she is seen not to merit a visa to allow her as a beauty pageant contestant, to travel to China to a seaside resort in Hainan for the final stage of the pageant, representing Canada.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, the government arm tasked with the promotion of human rights abroad, states that his department remains committed to pursuing human rights as a priority in its relationship with China. This is the bland statement in response to a query about whether it will become involved in requesting that China issue that visa, for Ms. Lin is the sole contestant without the required visa.

A statement of non-commitment from a department whose function is to be committed.

As for the province in which Ms. Lin lives whose premier is currently on a trade mission to China, when asked what the official provincial position on this matter might be, the response was equally edifying: "As you know, this issue falls under the purview of the federal government and as such we wouldn't comment on a specific individual", according to press secretary Jennifer Beaudry.

However, she added, Premier Wynne is committed to raising human rights issues while abroad. And so, poor little Ms. Lin may be preparing herself for a lonely and fruitless vigil in awaiting the visa that would permit her to attend the pageant conclusion. She doesn't have long to wait, since the cut-off date for entry is November 20. Born and raised in China, Ms. Lin knows the situation as well as anyone.

Half her life lived in China, the second half in Canada. It's a fair bet that if Ms. Lin as a conscientious citizen voted for anyone in the federal election that took place last month, she cast her vote for Justin Trudeau. Who speaks up a storm of eloquence on women's rights to equality and who seems steeped in feminism, but who has also admitted admiration for the government of China in the past. And whose administration, as it happens, is gearing up big-time to promote business in China for Canada.

Good luck on that one, Anastasia Lin.

(Note to pageant organizers: Change venue for future such pageant conclusions...?)

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