Christian Bale intended to raise awareness about the plight of human-rights activist Chen Guangcheng — who has been under a form of house arrest since 2010 — when he invited a CNN camera crew on a trip to China.
“The Dark Knight Rises” star was there to visit the quarantined Chen when local guards rebuffed his attempt to enter the Chinese dissident’s village, forcing the entire party off the premises. Chen has been under house arrest along with his family since his release from jail in September 2010. After speaking out against China’s forced abortion policy, he was imprisoned in 2006 on charges of damaging property and disrupting traffic in a protest. Chen’s supporters maintained that the blind, self-taught lawyer was detained on false charges, but he served the full four years of his sentence.
A CNN video captured a plainclothes guard pushing Bale around as he and the crew attempted to enter the tiny village in eastern China. Eventually, they were surrounded and corralled back to the main road. As the actor and the camera crew left the area, the guards got in a gray minivan and began to follow them.
Inside the CNN car, Bale said, “I don’t feel brave doing this. The local people who stand up to authorities [and] insist on visiting Chen and his family are getting beaten up for it, and to my understanding, getting detained for it. I want to support what they’re doing.”
Bale first learned of Chen’s plight while filming “The Flowers of War,” a drama set during the Nanking Massacre. Despite pleas from U.S. officials for Chen’s freedom, China’s state media has given the story little coverage.
Chinese security chased Bale and CNN for more than a half hour before giving up, according to the cable news outlet. On the way back to Beijing, Bale speculated to CNN about whether he would be banned from entering the country, even as “The Flowers of War” becomes China’s official entry at the 2012 Academy Awards.
“Really, what else can I do to help Chen?” he asked.
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