Tibetan quits pageant over China title
NEW DELHI, India, 6 December 2007 – A Tibetan woman said Wednesday that she pulled out of a beauty pageant in Malaysia after organizers, reacting to pressure from Beijing, told her halfway through the event that she could only participate if she added "China" to her "Miss Tibet" title.
Tsering Chungtak, 22, was allowed to participate in the preliminary rounds of the Miss Tourism contest for one week, but was later told by the organizers to either wear a sash labeled "Miss Tibet-China" or quit, she told reporters after her return to the Indian capital, New Delhi.
Malaysian government officials were not immediately available for comment.
Participants from 30 countries are vying for the title of Miss Tourism, to be selected on Saturday in Malaysia.
"I felt that this was not acceptable to me at all," Chungtak said wearing a sash labeled "Miss Tibet" on her long cream-colored dress.
Chungtak said the founder of the pageant told her Dec. 1 about the Chinese pressure over the issue that a Tibetan could only participate as a Tibetan Chinese.
"When the organizers allowed me to take part in the preliminaries this time, I thought that there was a change in the Chinese policy," she said.
Chungtak, a student of sociology in a New Delhi college, was crowned Miss Tibet in 2006 at a contest in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala, home to a majority of Tibetan exiles and the seat of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
"The Tibetan issue is same as ever. ... China is in control of Tibet and there is no freedom in Tibet," she said.
"This is all happening at a time when China is gearing up to build a clean image for itself in the run-up to Beijing Olympics," she added.
China occupied Tibet by military force in 1951. A Tibetan uprising was crushed by the Chinese government in 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled to India.
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