Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale has suffered a nasty brush with Chinese guards who forcibly blocked him and a CNN crew from visiting a blind lawyer-dissident being held under house arrest.
Bale, who is in China to promote his upcoming Nanjing Massacre film “The Flowers of War”, was stopped on Thursday on the outskirts of the village in eastern China where the activist Chen Guangcheng is being detained.
Bale, describing Chen as a personal “inspiration”, invited a CNN crew to accompany him on an eight-hour drive from Beijing to the village in Linyi district.
The same guards in green military-style overcoats who attacked the CNN crew during a February visit to the village were again present, and aimed punches at Bale and the crew, the network’s video footage showed.
“Why can I not visit this free man?” Bale asked repeatedly, as the guards tried to snatch a camera from the star of “The Dark Knight” and “The Fighter” and drag him away.
The Hollywood actor and CNN crew retreated to their van but were then chased down bumpy roads by the guards in another vehicle for 40 minutes, resulting in damage to the van, CNN reported.
“I’m not being brave doing this,” Bale reflected in the van, once they had made their getaway.
“The local people who are standing up to the authorities, who are visiting Chen and his family and getting beaten up for it… I want to support what they’re doing,” he said.
Activists organised through the Internet have been flocking to Chen’s village as part of an online campaign to free the self-taught lawyer and rights campaigner, who has been blind since childhood and turned 40 last month.
But campaigners say thugs have beaten up many of those who were able to come close to the home of the lawyer, who has been under house arrest since he completed a four-year jail sentence last year.
Chen is renowned for revealing forced sterilisations and late-term abortions affecting thousands of women in the eastern province of Shandong as part of measures to enforce China’s population control policy.
His cause has been championed in the West, including in a speech by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month.