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Miss World contestant Anastasia Lin.Pierre Gautreau

Ottawa has voiced support for Canada's Miss World contestant who says that China's security police have threatened her father as a result of her criticism of the country's bleak human-rights record.

Anastasia Lin, a University of Toronto theatre major who won the beauty pageant on May 16, has frequently spoken out against China's persecution of religious minorities during her campaign to take the tiara.

"Canada commends Ms. Lin for her efforts to raise awareness regarding these issues," said Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Amy Mills in an e-mailed statement to The Globe and Mail. "Canada is also concerned about allegations that the Chinese government have harassed Ms. Lin's family in China."

Days after Ms. Lin's victory, her divorced father, who remains in their native Hunan and is raising a new family, told her to stop talking about human rights and indicated that police pressured him to do so. Ms. Lin, 25, moved to Canada with her mother 12 years ago.

The statement has significance for other Chinese-Canadians – Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs community members, among them – who say that their families overseas are also being harassed on account of reports of their activities in Canada. Previously, when similar issues arise, Ottawa says it takes these reports seriously and it raises human rights regularly when it meets with its Chinese counterparts.

But Ottawa's backing of Ms. Lin is a high-profile example and ratchets the diplomatic stakes. China will host the Miss World final in December, and Ms. Lin, who now has her own government's support, will require a visa to go there.