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Anastasia Lin poses for photo in the departure hall of Hong Kong Airport last week. She was denied permission to continue on to China, a move she said was punishment for speaking out against human rights abuses in the country.

Tyrone Siu/Reuters

You'll have to forgive us – we thought beauty pageants were gaudy spectacles that place an archaic emphasis on the physical appearance of women. It turns out they are much more sinister than that. According to the Chinese government, beauty pageants are fifth-column operations bent on destroying nations, one tearfully accepted tiara at a time.

That is the reason Chinese officials have given for refusing to allow Anastasia Lin, Canada's 2015 Miss World contestant, into China for the month-long international pageant. Ms. Lin, a Canadian actress and model who was born in China and moved to this country as a child, has spoken out bravely against China's many human-rights abuses. She herself is a believer in Falun Gong, a spiritual practice whose popularity threatens the Communist Party, and which Beijing has banned and demonized as a sect.

Consequently, Ms. Lin is no longer welcome in the country of her birth. She "has to pay a cost for being tangled with hostile forces against China," announced an editorial published by one of China's state organs. "All performers should avoid being involved in radical political issues in the globalized times."

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It is eminently unfair that Ms. Lin can't compete in her chosen vocation because of her beliefs, but she should take solace in knowing that the mere threat of her presence was enough to make a world power shiver in fear. While her fellow, politically acceptable contestants are competing in such events as "Beauty with a Purpose" and "Top Model," she is doing something far more valuable – bringing attention to Beijing's increasingly paranoid and brutal crackdown on dissent.

According to Human Rights Watch, since 2013 Chinese authorities have "unleashed an extraordinary assault on basic human rights and their defenders with a ferocity unseen in recent years. Activists increasingly face arbitrary detention, imprisonment, commitment to psychiatric facilities, or house arrest. Physical abuse, harassment, and intimidation are routine."

Even beauty pageant contestants are getting under Beijing's thin skin these days. So be it. Contestants at these events often tell the judges that they just want to make the world a better place. By speaking out, Ms. Lin may actually achieve that goal.

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