At its inception in 1988, delegates were either winners or runners-up of regional Chinese beauty pageants around the world excluding the country of China, as this is a pageant for Chinese delegates from overseas. All delegates at the time of the pageant are between the ages at least of 17 and 25, with the upper age limit expanded to 27 in 2012. The delegates must be of at least partial Chinese descent.
Starting in 2007, the pageant allowed mainland Chinese participants, and the Chinese name of the pageant changed from 國際華裔小姐競選, which literally translated to "Miss International of Chinese Descent Pageant" to 國際中華小姐競選 to reflect the change, matching the English pageant title of Miss Chinese International Pageant. In 2009, a record number of 11 delegates came from Mainland China, more than one-third of the total contestant count. The number of China delegates has since decreased, with the 2013 pageant having only one Mainland Chinese delegate, representing Foshan.
In 2010, the pageant reverted to being held in November, delaying the 22nd Miss Chinese International Pageant by almost 10 months. Therefore, Christine Kuo, Miss Chinese International 2009 is the longest serving titleholder, having served 658 days from January 17, 2009 to November 5, 2010. The delay of the pageant meant that several regional titleholders from 2009 were not able to enter Miss Chinese International Pageant 2010 as they have already crowned their successors by November 2010, including Miss Hong Kong 2009 Sandy Lau. Miss Hong Kong Pageant 2010 was held in August and Lau's successor, Toby Chan, represented Hong Kong in Miss Chinese International 2010 instead.
One year later, TVB announced that the 23rd Miss Chinese International Pageant would be delayed until January 15, 2012, meaning that there would be no pageant held in 2011. This is the first time since 1990 a pageant would not be held during a calendar year. As with the year before, several regional titleholders from 2010 would not be able to enter Miss Chinese International Pageant 2012 as they have already crowned their successors by the end of 2011. However, the organizers allowed 2010 regional titleholders from Auckland, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver to compete with their 2011 counterparts in Miss Chinese International 2012, marking a first in the pageant's history where two representatives of the same region compete together.
Delegates representing Canadian cities have won 11 of the 27 iterations of the competition; with Vancouver winning seven titles (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2013, 2016), Toronto three times (1992, 1997 and 2009) and Montreal once (1993).
Delegates from pageant organizer Hong Kong have won thrice, but have recorded the most top three finishes with 17.
a ^In 1999, Amy Chung was stripped of her title of Miss Chinese International 1996 Second Runner-Up and had her artiste contract with TVB terminated when it was discovered that she had an outstanding warrant for her arrest in USA as she left the country to enter the pageant while on probation stemming from a credit card fraud conviction. Chung had also lied about her academic credentials, claiming to have a Masters Degree from Harvard University when she only has taken a course from Harvard Extension School. The title has yet to be filled since.