Pageant winners open to cosmos of opportunity

After five months of fierce competition, Chen Jiaoyi, a 24-year-old student at University College London, was named winner of the 2019 Miss Chinese Cosmos Pageant.

As an annual event sponsored by Hong Kong broadcaster Phoenix TV, the beauty contest, in its 17th year, seeks out well-educated young women who have good taste. While the contestants are drawn from around the world, all are Chinese or of Chinese descent.

Organizers say the pageant-which has branch competitions in Europe and America-is a way to bring Chinese overseas together and serves as a platform to honor the modern Chinese woman.

Nearly one month before Saturday’s Beijing final, Chen and 11 other candidates were shortlisted from among 41 aspiring contestants following a seven-day training course in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong province. The field was already whittled down from around 10,000 applicants.

The finals comprised three rounds of competition, including a dance in the style of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and a debate hosted by veteran anchor Yuchi Linjia. Among the jury members were renowned host Chen Luyu, musician Chris Babida and makeup artist Li Dongtian.

Chen Jiaoyi, a native of East China’s Fujian province, is currently studying for a master’s degree in digital media culture education. Before winning the title, she was crowned 2019 Miss Chinese in Europe.

“I heard a lot about this pageant when I was still studying for my bachelor’s degree at Communication University of China. For me, it’s not only a beauty contest, but a valuable experience to enhance confidence and broaden my horizons,” she said following the victory.

Recalling the moment when the hosts from Phoenix opened the envelope and announced the winner, Chen Jiaoyi says she was looking at her father, who was sitting in the audience.

“My attention was elsewhere, I was a bit distracted… Suddenly, I heard my name. It’s so incredible. It is like a dream,” she says.

She recalls suffering a leg injury during training, but she insisted on staying in the competition and felt the experience made her stronger.

Early in the competition, she and two other contestants were assigned to help local villagers in Kaiping, Guangdong province. Despite being afraid of live poultry, she conquered her fear to assist locals in working on the farm, doing jobs including the collection of duck eggs and harvesting vegetables.

“The competition set up a dozen courses to train us in a wide range of things, from how to deliver speeches, to dance performance and etiquette. It has been a helpful experience. I hope to spread Chinese culture and values-all that I’ve learned from the contest-overseas,” she adds.

Chen Jiaoyi says the Miss Chinese Cosmos title won’t change her plans for the future too much.

“I’ll pursue a job in media after graduation, but I plan to return to college to pursue a doctoral degree after working for a while,” she says.

Li Mengxiao, a 23-year-old Jiangsu native who is studying for a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications at New York University, was the runner-up. Third place went to Liu Xuan, a 21-year-old student from Communication University of China.

Talking about her most favorite contest moment, Li says it was being assigned to help locals harvest grapefruit in Meizhou in Guangdong, adding that she wishes to use her influence to promote Chinese agricultural production after returning to the United States.

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