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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 17:59 GMT
China chosen for Miss World pageant
Miss World pageant in London
This year's contest had to decamp to London
Organisers of the controversial Miss World beauty contest have decided to hold next year's pageant in China.

The tropical shores of the island of Hainan in the South China sea have been picked as a suitable location for the contest, which sees young beauties from around the globe compete for the crown.

The competition became the subject of fierce debate last month after it was forced to decamp from Nigeria to Britain due to bloody religious rioting.

At least 200 people died when Muslims attacked Christians in a deeply divided northern Nigerian town following a newspaper article suggesting that the Prophet Mohammed might have enjoyed the show.

Controversial settings

The organisers were criticised at the time for failing to take into account religious sensitivities when choosing a location for their contest, although others were horrified that a beauty pageant was being blamed for vicious and unprovoked murders.

Nigeria
Critics said organisers should have thought twice before choosing Nigeria
But even before the riots erupted, the contest had come under fire from women's groups and human rights activists for picking Nigeria, where women in the mainly Muslim north have been sentenced to death by stoning for bearing children out of wedlock.

No-one was available at the Miss World office to comment on the decision to take the contest to China, a country with a poor human rights record.

The company, owned by Julia Morley, was fighting a legal battle in a London court on Tuesday over money allegedly owing for a Miss World gala dinner.

The position of China's communist authorities on beauty contests has been unclear in the past.

Although contestants are allowed to enter international beauty competitions, correspondents say they are barred from being showed on state television.

For organisers of such an event, the large and ever expanding Chinese market provides enormous potential in terms of advertising revenue, offering sponsors with the prospect of a huge audience.


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07 Dec 02 | UK
07 Dec 02 | England
29 Nov 02 | Africa
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