Miss World Canada, Chinese-born Anastasia Lin, has said she was barred from boarding a plane from Hong Kong to the Chinese city hosting this year’s pageant.
Anastasia Lin, 25, says she did not receive an invitation to attend the event, which meant she could not apply for a visa.
However, she attempted to travel to Sanya, via Hong Kong, as Canadian tourists are eligible for visas on arrival.
Anastasia Lin has blamed the apparent ban on her human rights campaigning.
She has criticized the “repressions and censorship” in China and is a practitioner of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement which China deems a cult and has banned.
The Miss World tournament is due to happen in the seaside resort of Sanya on December 19.
Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail quoted a statement from the Chinese embassy in Ottawa that “China does not allow any persona non grata to come to China”, in response to a query on Anastasia Lin’s status.
“My denial was unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected. The Chinese government has barred me from the competition for political reasons,” Anastasia Lin said in a statement.
“They are trying to punish me for my beliefs and prevent me from speaking out about human rights issues.”
Anastasia Lin said she was barred from flying after trying to check in at the Dragonair counter at Hong Kong airport.
Canadians usually need a visa to enter China, but Anastasia Lin was trying to enter Sanya on a special landing visa that Sanya, as a tourist destination, grants on arrival to citizens of certain countries, including Canada.
Anastasia Lin moved from China to Canada in 2003 as a teenager. She has performed in films about the abuse of Falun Gong members, and spoken about the subject to a US Congressional committee in July.
She has also claims her father, who still resides in China, has been harassed by officials because of her activism.
Falun Gong, considered a cult by Chinese authorities, first began as a spiritual movement that quickly amassed thousands of followers.
After a demonstration by Falun Gong practitioners demanding recognition in 1999, Chinese authorities outlawed it and launched a crackdown.
The movement’s followers have accused authorities of persecution and often hold protests outside of China to draw attention to their treatment.