On Thursday Batman star Christian Bale was physically attacked by guards while attempting to visit embattled Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng.
Bale had traveled nine hours from a film premiere in Beijing to visit Guangcheng, a blind lawyer who has vocally opposed China’s one-child policy and worked for years to expose forced abortions and sterilization of Chinese women. Several weeks ago, rumors of Guangcheng’s death surfaced, and only very recently was he sighted alive.
Guangcheng spent four years in prison, where he was reportedly starved, tortured, and denied medical care. He is now under house arrest in the small village where Bale attempted to visit him.
“What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is,” said Bale.
According to CNN, Bale is not the only potential visitor who has been forcibly turned away from visiting the 40-year-old Guangcheng, where he is confined to a home with his wife, daughter, and mother.
“I’m not brave doing this,” Bale told CNN. “The local people who are standing up to the authorities, who are visiting Chen and his family and getting beaten or detained, I want to support them.”
Bale first learned of Guangcheng’s legal work advocating for families who had been victimized by China’s official family planning policy when he was in the country last year shooting Flowers of War. He decided to do something dramatic when he visited again for the premiere.
Apparently, Bale was unaware of a possible connection between a studio he worked for and the Chinese government:
Bale appeared a little surprised to learn that Relativity Media, which produced his 2010 Oscar-winning “The Fighter” and recently filmed a comedy in Linyi, was accused by activists of cozying up to the same officials who ordered Chen’s detention and torture. The studio has issued a statement denying the allegation.
The Chinese government also was a partial financier of Bale’s latest film.
In a video interview with CNN, Bale described his treatment at the hands of unidentified guards blocking the entrance to Guangcheng’s village. “They definitely wanted to try and hold me on the spot,” he said. He explained that the guards seemed particularly interested in their cameras, and that he believed they intended to keep Bale and those with him from revealing to the world “how vile the treatment of this wonderful man is.”
Once they had “struggled free” and made it back to the van, “It wasn’t over… They pursued us for many miles. What were they gonna do? What was their plan if they were to catch us? And you have to remember that throughout all of this, these… thugs do not identify themselves whatsoever.”
Bale went on to describe what motivated him to attempt the dangerous visit. “I was inspired by the man himself. This is a blind human rights lawyer. He taught himself to read at the age of 24… It’s amazing that a superpower like China is actually terrified of this man…”
The actor was careful to distance himself from any of his colleagues on the newly released film Flowers of War. “I did not mention that I would be doing this to any of my fellow filmmakers,” he explained. “It’s not for me to pull them into an issue that I care deeply about. That’s their choice.”
Approximately 39.5% of China’s population is officially subject to the one-child policy, although in practice it is not strictly limited to urban families and has been linked to technically illegal acts such as forced abortions, forced sterilization, sex-selective abortion favoring males, and female infanticide.
Cross posted from LiveAction with additional comments from ProLife NZ. For more information on the situation in China visit Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.