At first glance, Academy Award winner Christian Bale would appear to be a popular figure in the People’s Republic of China. Known internationally for his role as Batman in the blockbuster trilogy, he has also made a name for himself in China for his leading role in The Flowers of War, by acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou. The film, which depicts Japan’s rape of Nanking in 1937, has become a box-office in smash in China, earning over $83 million, enough to make it the third-highest grossing Chinese film of all-time, and earned a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Foreign Film, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Later this month, it hopes to earn an Academy Award nomination as the official Chinese entry to the prestigious award ceremony.
Nonetheless, Christian Bale did not receive a hero’s welcome during a recent visit to China to promote the film. Instead, he became the latest victim of the Chinese governments’ crackdown on voices of opposition and dissidence. While in China, Mr. Bale had hoped to meet with Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist living under house arrest for his work in opposition to China’s one-child policy. Instead, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Mr. Bale soon found himself in a shoving match with Chinese police:
Academy Award winner Christian Bale found himself in a shoving match with local police in a village near Beijing, as The Dark Knight star attempted to visit a Chinese activist that he regards as an “inspiration.”
Bale had invited CNN correspondent Stan Grant and a cameraman to join him on a visit to Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist living under house arrest after being released from prison in 2010. Chen was sentenced to four years in prison for damaging property and disrupting traffic during a protest, although supporters say his legal work on behalf of what Chen said are victim’s of China’s one-child policy, including forced abortions and sterilizations, led to his prosecution.
“Why can’t I visit this free man?” Bale asked repeatedly, with Grant translating. Local police, many dressed in plainclothes, pushed the group back as they approached Chen’s village, punched and damaged a camera Bale was holding, and threw rocks at their car.
“What I really wanted to do was to meet [Chen], shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is,” Bale told CNN.
Instead of apologizing to Mr. Bale for this embarrassing incident and trying to put the bad publicity behind, the Chinese government believes it is the American actor who should be embarrassed. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weiman says Mr. Bale was invited to China to promote the film, “But he was not invited to create a story or shoot film in a certain village… I think if you want to make up news in China, you will not be welcome here.”
The “make up news” Mr. Liu refers to is the well-documented plight of Mr. Chen.
Chen documented forced late-term abortions and sterilizations and other abuses by overzealous authorities trying to meet population control goals in his rural community. He was imprisoned for allegedly instigating an attack on government offices and organizing a group of people to disrupt traffic, charges his supporters say were fabricated.
Although now officially free under the law, he has been confined to his home in the village eight hours’ drive from Beijing and subjected to periodic beatings and other abuse, activists say.
Chen’s case has been raised publicly by U.S. lawmakers and diplomats, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, all to no response from China.
Mr. Bale’s dustup with Chinese officials is just the latest example of the Chinese government’s attempt to silence any opposition and dissidence. It is the same policy that has led to the Chinese Community Party to pursue the Golden Shield Project, with the assistance of Cisco Systems.
Let Cisco Systems know that their continued and knowing support of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to violate the human rights of peaceful political dissidents like Du Daobin, Zhou Yuanzhi, and Liu Xianbin will no longer be tolerated. Contact your elected representatives — let them know how you feel. Finally, if you haven’t already done so, sign the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s petition– Tell Cisco: Stop helping China abuse human rights!.