Chen Guangcheng

Bale roughed up during activist visit

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 December, 2011, 12:00am


Related topics

Hollywood actor and Batman star Christian Bale was roughed up by security guards in Shandong this week when he tried to visit detained legal activist Chen Guangcheng - a move that has cast fresh international attention on the blind campaigner.

Bale, who is in China to promote his Nanking massacre film The Flowers of War, was stopped on Thursday along with an accompanying CNN camera crew outside Dongshigu village, where Chen has been held under house arrest for 15 months, a CNN report said.

Bale and the camera crew were confronted by four men and pushed after approaching a checkpoint leading to Chen's village and saying they wanted to see the activist. More men soon emerged and punched Bale when he repeatedly asked: 'Why can I not visit this man?'

After the actor and journalists retreated, they were chased by a minivan for more than half an hour. CNN filmed the encounter and posted the footage on its website.

'What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is,' Bale told CNN as their van left the scene. 'I'm not being brave doing this. [It is] the local people who are standing up to the authorities and insisting on going to visit Chen and his family and getting beaten up for it.'

CNN said Bale got interested in the plight of Chen from its news coverage and approached it while in China to say he hoped to meet him.

'I was inspired by the man himself - this is a blind human rights lawyer ... it is amazing that he is able to have the power that he does,' he said later. 'It's amazing that a superpower like China is terrified of this man.'

Hated by local officials for exposing forced abortions and sterilisations in Shandong, his native province, Chen was jailed for more than four years on what his supporters say were trumped-up charges of 'organising a crowd to disrupt traffic' and 'damaging public property'. Chen, his wife and their six-year-old daughter have been confined in their house and kept incommunicado since his release from jail in September last year. Scores of supporters who tried to visit him in recent months have been detained or roughed up.

In The Flowers of War, which opens this weekend on the mainland, Bale plays a man who posed as a priest to save a group of schoolgirls from Japanese soldiers during the rape of Nanking in 1937. The film is China's official entry in next year's Academy Awards. CNN said Bale was prepared to accept that authorities might never allow him back on the mainland after the incident.