Has the Cultural Revolution arrived in the West?
Anastasia Lin in conversation with Prof Simon Haines
Is it worth living in a world where we are afraid to say what we think, even to our friends?
This was the question posed by Chinese Canadian freedom fighter Anastasia Lin in April in the Wall Street Journal.
She now advocates for countries the world over to do more than simply pay lip service to protecting basic freedoms.
“The emerging call-out culture in the US, Canada and elsewhere in the West bears more than a few similarities to China’s Cultural Revolution, in which writers, artists, doctors, scholars and other professionals were publicly denounced and forced by mobs to engage in ritual self-criticism. The goal is not to persuade or debate; it is to humiliate the target and intimidate everyone else. The ultimate objective is to destroy independent thought.”
In Australia voices across the political spectrum from Alan Jones to Richard Flanagan have recently spoken out in defence of a free press; and in Hong Kong more than a million people have protested in defence of rule of law. So, can we maintain the right to express our own views while limiting the rights of others to do the same? When does freedom of expression become an incitement to riot, an oppression of the vulnerable or a danger to national security?
Anastasia Lin is an award-winning actress, beauty pageant titleholder, and human rights advocate. In 2015, Lin won the Miss World Canada title, and was to represent Canada at the Miss World pageant in China. However, she was refused a visa and declared a persona non grata by Chinese authorities for her outspoken views on the country’s human rights violations. The news of her rejection—and subsequent attempt to enter China—caused global media attention for weeks, leading to a front page article in The New York Times and op-eds in major newspapers. Since then, she has been invited to speak at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the Oxford Union, United Nations Human Rights Council, the Geneva Human Rights Summit, Oslo Freedom Forum and has testified in the US Congress, the UK Parliament, and the Taiwanese Legislative Assembly.
Lin has appeared in over 20 films and television productions. She often works at the confluence of activism and acting, playing roles that carry messages of freedom, human rights, and ethics. Her films have received the Gabriel Award for Best Feature Film, the Mexico International Film Festival’s Golden Palm Award, and the California’s Indie Fest Award of Merit. Lin also won the Best Leading Actress in a TV Movie at the Leo Awards in 2016. As a model, she’s made appearances on runways around the world, including the New York Fashion Week show at the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria.
Lin has been listed as one of the “Top 25 under 25” by MTV, a “Top 60 under 30” by Flare, and called “The Badass Beauty Queen” by Marie Claire. She was one of eleven stakeholders selected to meet with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird upon the establishment of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. Her articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The Daily Telegraph and other major newspapers.