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China: Actor Christian Bale Roughed Up Trying to Visit Chen Guangcheng

Categories: East Asia, China, Film, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Protest

Following an eight-hour drive from Beijing where he was promoting his upcoming film The Flowers of War [1], British actor Christian Bale was roughed up on Thursday 15 December, 2011, after attempting to visit the home of detained rights activist Chen Guangcheng [2].

A screen capture of CNN's video of Bale being turned away. [3]

A screen capture of CNN's video of Bale being turned away.

CNN reporters were with Bale [4] as he tried to enter Chen's village and was forced to leave by guards, who then pursued Bale and company by minivan for more than 40 minutes. Batman jokes are cascading across Sina Weibo and other online spaces.

In a New York Times opinion piece last month, respected Chinese journalist Chen Min sparked major controversy [5] among Chinese activists with his stance that only quiet diplomacy will lead to lessened repression in cases like that of Chen Guangcheng, that the Chinese government's loss of ‘face’ on an international level only makes officials more unwilling to back down.

If elaborate censorship and policing measures prevent Chinese citizens from speaking on Chen's behalf, others retort, and foreigners should keep quiet about such cases, are people held completely incommunicado like Chen Guangcheng meant to be left to speak for themselves?

Christian Bale, image from Weibo [6]

Christian Bale, image from Weibo