Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Bale clashes with activist's guards

Christian Bale on the red carpet for new movie The Flowers of War in Beijing, China (AP)

Oscar winner Christian Bale has clashed with guards in China while trying to visit a blind activist living under house arrest.

The Hollywood star had a CNN camera crew in tow at the time, and the channel has posted footage of a scuffle between Bale and the activist's guards on its website.

Bale was in the midst of promoting a film he made in China that some critics have called propaganda.

The run-in and publicity is likely to cause discomfort in China's government-backed film industry, which hopes the movie The Flowers Of War might be a creative success at home and abroad.

It also raises questions about whether it was prudent to take the famously volatile star to see an activist guarded by thugs who have turned away dozens of reporters and fellow activists trying to see him in the past.

Bale, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for last year's The Fighter, travelled on Thursday with a crew from CNN to the village in eastern China where blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng lives with his family in complete isolation. They were stopped at the entrance to Dongshigu village in Shandong province by unidentified men.

The footage shows Bale asking to see Chen, with a CNN producer providing interpretation, but being ordered by one of the guards to leave. He then asks why he is unable to pass through. The guards respond by trying to grab or punch a small video camera Bale is carrying. "What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is," Bale was quoted as saying by CNN.

Journalists and scores of Chinese human rights activists have sought to visit Chen in the past, all unsuccessfully. His case has been raised publicly by US congressmen and diplomats, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, all to no response from China.

CNN said Bale first learned of Chen from news reports when he was in China filming The Flowers Of War, China's official submission for best foreign language film Oscar.

It said he "reached out to CNN and invited us to join him on his journey to visit Chen".

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