Tibetan beauty must wear 'Miss Tibet-China' sash

12 July 2005

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Kuala Lumpur: A beauty pageant in Malaysia will bar a Tibetan contestant unless she complies with China's demands that she competes as "Miss Tibet-China", organisers said on Monday.

"We will not accept her entry if she participates as Miss Tibet," said Alaric Soh, the organiser of the Miss Tourism pageant in Kuching, the capital of eastern Sarawak state on Borneo island.

Soh said that in 2003 China complained about the involvement of another Tibetan beauty queen who took part as Miss Tibet in the pageant. "This year we took precautions and consulted the Chinese embassy," he told AFP.

Soh said the contestant, Tashi Yangchen, could enter if she was billed as Miss Tibet-China, but Tibetan organisers have ruled that out as unacceptable. "I do not want to offend anyone, including Tibet, but we do not want to have anything to do with their internal issues," he said.

"Our pageant is not about politics or religion. It is about promoting tourism and friendship." Soh added that Miss China, Miss Chinese Taipei and Miss Hong Kong-China were also taking part in the beauty contest.

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.

Her spokesman said on Sunday that she was barred from participating in the Malaysian pageant after Chinese officials complained that a woman who lives in India cannot represent a part of China.

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

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.

The Malaysian pageant, with contestants from 32 countries began over the weekend and the final is to take place on July 23.

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