Chinese pressure sees Miss Tibet ousted from Malaysian beauty pageant

afp AFP 10 July 2005

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DHARAMSHALA, India, Sunday, July 10, 2005 (AFP) - Miss Tibet has been barred from participating in a beauty pageant in Malaysia after Chinese officials complained that a woman who lives in India cannot represent a part of China.

"Miss Tibet Tashi Yangchen made all the preparations but now she is not participating at this year's Miss Tourism Pageant in Malaysia because the organiser of the Miss Tourism Pageant 2005 required Miss Tibet to participate as Miss Tibet-China," Ngawang Samdup, spokesman for Tashi, said Sunday.

The pageant with contestants from 32 countries began on Saturday in Sarawak, Malaysia, with the final taking place on July 23.

Ngawang said the organiser of the pageant, Alaric Soh, told Tibetan officials that the Chinese embassy in Malaysia had objected to the participation of a Miss Tibet.

Soh tried to solve the dispute by naming Tashi as the Miss Tibet-China contestant but Tibetan organisers said that was unacceptable.

"To stand as Miss Tibet-China would be politically incorrect as the Chinese have not yet solved the political issue of Tibet," Ngawang said. "It is unfortunate that China is meddling in the event with political motives."

Tashi, who is currently studying for a masters in business administration at Huron University in London, was also ousted from the Miss Tourism World pageant in Zimbabwe in February following pressure from the Chinese embassy there.

Tashi was crowned Miss Tibet in October 2004 in Dharamsala, the home of the Tibetan government-in-exile and main residence of the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama, who turned 70 last Wednesday, fled to India in 1959, nine years after China occupied Tibet.

Envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese officials have conducted four rounds of exploratory talks on rapproachment since 2002 with the latest rounds in Berne, Switzerland, earlier this month.

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