Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
UPDATE: Christian Bale should be embarrassed about his televised bid last week to visit a blind Chinese dissident who is under house arrest, a Chinese government spokesman said Thursday, adding that the Batman star was trying "to make up news."
The Associated Press reports that Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin's comments came in response to a question from reporters about whether the publicity surrounding Bale's attempt to visit Chen Guangcheng (which was recorded by the CNN crew the actor brought along with him) had been a PR embarrassment for China.
Liu said that Bale, who was in the country to attend the opening ceremony of the film "The Flowers of War," was the only one who should feel bad about his trip to the village in eastern China where Chen lives. "He was not invited to create a story or shoot film in a certain village," Liu said. "I think if you want to make up news in China, you will not be welcome here."
Friday, Dec. 16: Christian Bale on Friday did his best to visit a blind Chinese human rights activist who has been under house arrest for more than a year in a tiny village in eastern China. For his trouble, the Batman star was pushed, punched and generally roughed up by government guards whose job it is to block all visitors to the home.
Fortunately for us -- and for Bale, who made his pilgrimage to visit Chen Guangcheng, at least in part, to draw media attention to the government critic's plight -- a CNN crew was traveling with the Hollywood star and caught everything on tape.
The CNN correspondent, who was also translating for Bale, describes the scene like so:
"I am here to see Chen Guangcheng," the Dark Knight actor said and I translated, with correspondent Stan Grant and cameraman Brad Olson next to us.
"Go away!" the plainclothes guards barked, pushing us back.
Amid the scuffling and yelling, dozens more guards in olive-green, military-style overcoats -- and two gray minivans -- emerged from the other side of the checkpoint, all coming toward us.
"Why can I not visit this free man?" Bale asked repeatedly, only to receive punches from guards aiming for his small camera as they tried to drag him away from the rest of us.
The clash likely didn't catch Bale or the CNN crew completely off guard. Bale reportedly learned about Guangcheng while filming The Flowers of War in China earlier this year. So when he came back to promote the film -- which is also China's official entry for next year's Academy Awards -- Bale decided to engineer a media stunt to draw attention to the man. The failed visit, complete with lines fit for a screenplay, ended in a cinematic car chase.
Guangcheng was arrested in 2006 for destruction of property and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic. The year before that, he had uncovered forced sterilizations and aborted pregnancies in rural areas of the country as part of the enforcement of China's one child policy. He filed a lawsuit, which was rejected.
Guangcheng's house arrest was one of many tarnishes on China's human rights record cited by the U.S. ambassador to China last week in a statement. According to the Associated Press, ambassador Gary Locke also pointed to the imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, the disappearance of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, and religious freedom restrictions in the country.