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BEIJING — Dark Knight star Christian Bale should feel embarrassed for trying to visit a human rights activist while he was in China to promote a movie the country has submitted for an Oscar, a government spokesman said Wednesday.
Bale was physically stopped by government-backed guards from visiting blind activist Chen Guangcheng who lives under house arrest in eastern China last week. A CNN crew he was traveling with recorded the scuffle.
Asked whether the publicity has been embarrassing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said he thought the actor should feel embarrassed, not China.
He said Bale was invited by director Zhang Yimou to attend the opening ceremony of the film The Flowers of War.
“But he was not invited to create a story or shoot film in a certain village,” said Liu. “I think if you want to make up news in China, you will not be welcome here.”
Bale, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for last year’s The Fighter, said he wanted to shake Chen’s hand and tell him “what an inspiration he is.”
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.
CNN said Bale first learned of Chen from news reports when he was in China filming The Flowers of War, China’s official submission this year for best foreign language film Oscar.
The movie centers on the 1937 sacking of the eastern city of Nanjing, known in the West as the “Rape of Nanking,” and has been described by some critics as hewing to official propaganda portraying Chinese as heroic victims and Japanese as one-dimensional cartoon villains.
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