In China to promote his new film, actor Christian Bale was assaulted by government-backed guards as he attempted to visit a prominent Chinese activist detained in his home in eastern Shandong Province.
I am here to see Chen Guangcheng, said the Dark Knight actor, who was accompanied by a CNN camera crew. Go away! the men shouted back.
Why can I not visit this free man? Bale asked repeatedly, only to find himself in a scuffle as the guards reportedly punched him, trying to take away a small camera he was carrying. And even after Bale and the camera crew retreated to their car, the plainclothes officers continued to chase after them.
The encounter was captured by CNN and released on its Web site Thursday.
Bale was attempting to visit Chen, a blind legal activist who has been under house arrest for the past 15 months for upsetting local Communist party officials by exposing a program of forced abortions and sterilizations as part of China's one-child policy, The Daily Telegraph reported. Chen was given a four-year prison sentence in 2006 for damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic. He denied the charges.
Chen's phones and Internet lines have also been cut, in order to keep visitors away, and a 200-strong army patrols the perimeters of his village round the clock.
What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is, Bale said. I'm not being brave doing this. The local people who are standing up to authorities and insisting on going to visit Chen and his family and getting beaten up for it, and my understanding, getting detained for it and everything. I want to support what they are doing.
Hundreds of Chinese dissidents and human rights activists have attempted to visit Chen since he was released from prison, though none have been able to do so, the Los Angeles Times reported. Both United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke have called for Chen's release.
Bale's latest movie, The Flowers of War, a Golden Globe-nominated Chinese film, premiered last Sunday. In it, Bale plays an American drifter who poses as a priest to save the lives of a group of Chinese schoolgirls during Japan's occupation of China before World War II.