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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 December, 2003, 15:34 GMT
Ireland wins Miss World contest
Miss World winner Rosanna Davison
Miss Ireland beat more than 100 other contestants
Ireland has won the Miss World beauty pageant, held this year for the first time in China.

Rosanna Davison, 19, took the title on China's tropical island of Hainan, watched by millions of people around the world.

China only recently lifted a 54-year ban on beauty contests and spent millions sprucing up the venue.

Last year, the contest was engulfed in controversy when bloody riots erupted in the host nation Nigeria.

At least 200 people died when Muslims attacked Christians in northern Nigeria following a local newspaper's report that the Prophet Mohammed might have enjoyed the show.

The riots forced the competition to decamp from Nigeria to Britain.

'China's Hawaii'

Miss Davison, the daughter of rock singer Chris de Burgh, is a university student in the Irish capital, Dublin.

Mr De Burgh - best known for his hit Lady In Red - told reporters backstage: "I'm absolutely thrilled, I'm seriously proud of her."

Miss Canada, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, took second place, while the host country's Miss China, Guan Qi, was third.

Contestants at Great Wall

Beauty queens from a record 106 countries have been parading before the cameras in recent days at China's historic sites and beauty spots.

They wrapped themselves in fur coats on a snowy Great Wall and unpacked their swimsuits on the southern island of Hainan dubbed as "China's Hawaii".

The city of Sanya has spent more than $30 million sprucing itself up for the cameras, as the show for the first time was to be shown on China's state television.

A $12 m complex was built especially for the pageant.

Among the panel of judges of this year's finals are the Hollywood actor and martial arts star, Jackie Chan, and the Miss World 2001 from Nigeria, Agbani Darego.

Bourgeois decadence

Until recently, beauty pageants were banned in China.

After the Communist revolution of 1949, authorities in Beijing dismissed the show as an example of exploitation and bourgeois decadence.

But the explosion of economic growth and the loosening of social controls of the past few years has led to a growing preoccupation with how people look.

Fashion show catwalks have sprung up in shopping malls and Western designer labels are everywhere.

The BBC's Louisa Lim
"China has thrown itself into hosting Miss World"

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