PURCHASE, New York — On Sept. 30, New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television’s inaugural Global Chinese Beauty Pageant came to a close following a successful week of competition. The cultural event saw the participation of 32 young women from across four continents.
Setting itself apart from conventional beauty pageants, NTD’s event emphasized traditional values celebrated throughout China’s rich 5,000-year history and cultural tapestry. By delving deeper into its significance, the event aimed to promote the pillars of “pure authenticity, pure goodness, and pure beauty.”
Extending beyond the physical beauty of contestants, the event sought to showcase their understanding and embodiment of China’s ancient cultural virtues. Through segments like interviews, an onstage Q&A, evening gown presentations, and dancewear displays to showcase posture, poise, and physical fitness, the competition highlighted elements of inner grace, elegance, and tradition to redefine the parameters of true beauty.
With an emphasis on inclusivity, the event was held in a bilingual capacity in both English and Chinese — and was open only to women with at least one-third Chinese descent.
The New York-based NTD Television was founded by Chinese-Americans in 2001. Its name recalls the prosperous Tang Dynasty (626–907 A.D.), widely regarded as a high point of ancient Chinese civilization and culture.
Reviving traditional values
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With the crowning jewel of the pageant not just focused on tiaras, prizes, and evening gowns, the event was an embodiment of five virtues central to traditional Chinese culture: morality (德), righteousness (義), propriety (禮), benevolence (仁), and faithfulness (信).
“This pageant was a wonderful representation of what traditional Chinese women embody,” said Xiaoyan Liu, Chief Financial Officer of Gan Jing World, who served as one of the competition’s judges. “Seeing traditional Chinese beauty showcased to the whole world, I felt very proud to be Chinese-American.”
Liu further emphasized the distinctiveness of the competition in comparison to Western beauty pageants. “The caliber of the contestants was quite impressive, and the contestants really showcased the values of wisdom and grace, while focusing on their inner beauty,” she told Vision Times.
While explaining how Western pageants in the past also focused on inner beauty, somewhere along the way, that emphasis dwindled. But NTD’s beauty pageant, she noted, is “bringing that traditional beauty and values back into the world stage.”
‘Compassion is beauty’
“Socrates once said ‘compassion is beauty,’ so according to his philosophy, if one can attain this standard and mission set forth by Gods, then you have achieved true beauty,” said fellow judge Tianliang Zhang, who also works as a professor and researcher at Feitian College in Middletown, New York.
When asked about what makes NTD’s beauty pageant stand out from other competitions, Zhang said, “NTD’s beauty pageant is helping people reconnect with their divine side and nature.”
In an era where many events often prioritize external aesthetics, NTD’s beauty pageant takes a different route. “Even though this was the first time this competition was held, I think being able to transmit this clear message across to the audience is very special and unique,” added Zhang.
‘A new way to rejoice in my heritage’
The coveted title of Miss NTD was awarded to Cynthia Sun, who was also graced with a five-sapphire “phoenix crown” tiara from Shen Yun Collections.
While being interviewed, Sun dazzled not only in her evening gown, but also with a deep, newfound connection to her heritage. As a second-generation Chinese-American, Sun candidly recalled her initial skepticism during past interviews when she was asked if she believed she would win.
“When I was asked [in preliminary interviews] ‘Do you think you’ll become Miss NTD?’ my first answer was, ‘I honestly think no,’” she told reporters.
Sun credited her triumph to her personal growth, sharing with Vision Times, “I think I won tonight because I have improved myself over this past week.” While emphasizing the instrumental role of her fellow 31 contestants — referring to them affectionately as “my sisters” — Sun said it was through this collective support that she found a renewed and profound way to “rejoice in my heritage and my tradition” in a way she hadn’t experienced before.
For Sun, the event was a precious venue to highlight and promote the traditional values and culture of China, which for millennia was guided by Confucian social ethics and the wisdom of the Buddhist and Daoist faiths.
“The Miss NTD beauty pageant gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my Chinese culture — as a Chinese-American born in Texas, I never had the opportunity to learn about my culture in this way,” she told Vision Times in a written statement following the event.
“For now, I’m just taking it day by day, moment by moment, and staying humble,” she continued. “I am very honored to be Miss NTD, and I hope to inspire other young women to connect with their heritage.”
A multicultural upbringing
Showcasing what it means to be a modern woman grounded in age-old traditions and values, the event served as a reminder that real beauty isn’t just skin deep — it’s the culmination of character, values, and an unwavering connection to one’s roots, said third runner-up Fiona Ji, who hails from Toronto, Canada.
In conversation with a Vision Times reporter, Ji shed light on her bi-cultural upbringing and its influence on her perception of beauty. Raised in the West but deeply rooted in Chinese traditions thanks to her mother’s influence, Fiona shared her experience of balancing both worlds.
“I think the beauty of the East — especially the traditional beauty of China — is more about inner refinement,” she told Vision Times, while emphasizing the value of inner depth and humility. When asked about how she integrates both cultures, Ji said, “I believe both cultures have their strengths, and if we can combine the best of both worlds, it would be very interesting and wonderful to see.”
The complete list of winners is:
- Miss NTD: Cynthia Sun
- 1st Runner-up: Vicky Zhao
- 2nd Runner-up: Belle Meng
- 3rd Runner-up: Fiona Ji
- 4th Runner-up: Wandi Zhu
- 5th Runner-up: Annie Chen
- Best in Evening Gown: Tina Yang
- Best in Fitness Wear: Belle Meng
- Best in Instrumentalist: Melody Hughes
- Best in Dancing: Vicky Zhao
- Best in Creative: Elisabeth Yang
- Best in Beauty with a Mission:
1. Annie Li
2. Sherry Ning
3. Annie Chen
- Miss Photogenic: Cissy Sun
- Miss Congeniality: Annie Chen
- Director’s Award: Laura Danne
For more information about the Miss NTD pageant, please visit the official website here.
With reporting by Judy Tao.