Source AP ©

Pressure from China makes Tibetan woman quit beauty show in Malaysia

A Tibetan woman left a beauty pageant in Malaysia as she could only participate as "Ms. Tibet-China" because of pressure from China.

She 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, Tsering Chungtak, 22, told reporters after her return to the Indian capital, where she is studying sociology.

"I felt that this was not acceptable to me at all," she said wearing a sash labeled "Miss Tibet" on her long cream-colored dress.

"The Tibetan issue is same as ever ... China is in control of Tibet and there is no freedom in Tibet," she said.

Participants from 30 countries are vying for the title in Malaysia's Sarawak state. The Miss Tourism queen will be selected on Saturday.

Chungtak said that Alaric Soh, the founder of the pageant that started in 2003, told her on 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.

Malaysian government officials were not immediately available for comment on Chungtak's allegation.

"It was a lifetime experience for me. It's an injustice," said Chungtak.

"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 said.

Chungtak is a Tibetan who is studying in a New Delhi college. She 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.

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.