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Christian Bale roughed up in bid to visit dissident in China

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Andy Wong/AP

(Read caption) English actor Christian Bale speaks to journalists during an interview on the red carpet as he arrives for an event of the Zhang Yimou-directed new movie 'The Flowers of War' in Beijing, Monday. Academy Award winner Bale, in the midst of promoting the film he made in China that some critics have called propaganda, has been stopped trying to visit a famous human rights activist living under house arrest, with a CNN camera crew in tow.

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Far be it from me to suggest that Christian Bale, the Oscar winning Hollywood star who made his name as Batman, is anything but a noble warrior for international human rights.

But it is hard not to detect a smidgeon of self-promotion in his latest stunt – getting himself filmed by CNN being roughed up by Chinese thugs during a vain attempt to visit Chen Guangcheng, a famous human rights activist who has been under house arrest for the past 15 months.

Mr. Bale is in China to promote his latest movie “The Flowers of War,” about the brutal Japanese occupation of Nanking in 1937, which some critics have panned as Chinese propaganda. His successful televised bid to draw world attention to the illegal detention of one of the sharpest thorns in the Chinese government’s side has certainly undercut such criticism.

CNN said Bale contacted the network’s Beijing office asking for help in visiting Mr. Chen, whose village in eastern China has been locked down by plainclothes security men for more than a year. Diplomats, journalists, and ordinary Chinese citizens have been violently turned away whenever they have sought to visit the blind lawyer who helped alleged victims of forced abortions.

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