Actor Christian Bale was in Beijing, China this week to promote his latest film, “The Flowers of War.” The film, by Director Zhang Yimou, is about an American priest that sheltered prostitutes and female students during a 1937 Japanese invasion.
While there, Bale decided to go see Chen Guangcheng, an attorney and proponent of human rights. The forty-year-old Chen, who is blind, was under house arrest for six months in 2005-2006 after talking to Time magazine about forced abortions performed in the Shandong Province of China. In 2006, he was arrested for destruction of property and disrupting traffic by assembling a crowd. The really bad part is Chen’s lawyers weren’t allowed in the court during his trial. Subsequently, he was sentenced to four years and three months.
But, even after his sentence was complete, Chen, along with his wife, daughter, and mother, remain prisoners in their home, which is guarded by the military.
Bale learned of Chen’s home imprisonment while filming “The Flowers of War.” He showed up to see Chen, but approximately a dozen guards outside his Dongshigu home told him to “Go Away.” The guards then began to physically force Bale and the CNN crew that accompanied him to leave.
Once Bale started filming the scene, the guards’ ire amplified. Even though he asked, “Why can I not visit this free man?” guards shoved him and reached for his camera.
Even after being shoved off the property, Bale and the crew were followed by guards in their own van for about 40 minutes. Bale explained for the CNN camera that “What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand, and say what an inspiration he is.”
But, Bale also attempted to visit the activist in order to raise awareness of Chen’s imprisonment, especially among Americans, and perhaps in hopes of pressuring the Chinese government to let him go free.
You can see part of the Bale footage on YouTube.