Forty-eight finalists from around the world appeared in bikinis at the press conference for the second "Miss Bikini of the Universe" pageant on Friday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
The candidates, all aged between 18 and 25, paraded before the cameras representing their countries.
They are competing for the title from Friday until August 28 in Beihai, a summer resort city in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It held the first "Miss Bikini of the Universe" competition last year.
The winner will be crowned "Queen Pearl" and will receive US$5,000 in prize money; second and third place will earn the title "Miss Pearl," and will receive US$3,000 and US$2,000 respectively, according to the pageant's organizing committee.
Suha Alpayli, chairman of Intermodel, an Istanbul-based beauty pageant organization that was involved in establishing the contest, said the judges would be looking for a nice "physical body" and "broad knowledge."
He said there would be 17 to 19 judges representing different countries.
Alpayli's organization and the other major pageant organizer, the Beihai municipal government, selected the judges.
The pageant will be part of the second "Beihai International Beach Travel Festival," said Duan Wendao, the city's deputy Party secretary, and also the director of the organizing committee.
"We're glad to hold such an event to show the world not only the beauty of contestants, but also the beauty of Beihai," he said.
Finalists have progressed through preliminary contests held by authorized pageant organizations in their countries, and Yang Qi, a third-year student at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, is representing China.
Towering at 180 centimetres, she said she could be the tallest entrant.
"I think my sweet smile helped me in the preliminary contest, and I hope it may win me the crown as well," she said, adding that the standard of competition was high.
This year Pakistan has its first representative in the competition.
"It's the first time that Pakistan has participated in the Bikini pageant, as we're an Islamic country," said 22-year-old Mariyah Moten, who is representing Pakistan.
"Now there's less reproach in Pakistan on women's participation in such beauty contests," she said.
"All my family support me and I'm excited to have the chance to participate in the event."
The candidates spent time in Beijing visiting attractions such as the Forbidden City and leave for Beihai on the weekend.
(China Daily 08/12/2006 page2)