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'Batman' star Bale tries to visit China activist

The Associated Press, Thursday, December 15, 2011, 9:24pm (PST)

BEIJING (AP) -- "Batman" star Christian Bale, in the midst of promoting a film he made in China that some critics have called propaganda, was stopped trying to visit a blind activist living under house arrest — with a CNN crew in tow.

CNN posted footage of a scuffle between Bale and the activist's guards on its website Friday.

The run-in and publicity is likely to cause discomfort in China's government-backed film industry, which hopes Bale's movie "The Flowers of War" will be a creative success at home and abroad. It also raises questions about whether it was prudent to bring the star to see an activist guarded by thugs who have turned away dozens of reporters and fellow activists trying to see him in the past.

Bale was due to leave China on Friday and his representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. A CNN spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about the story, but said a statement would be forthcoming.

Bale, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for last year's "The Fighter," traveled Thursday with a crew from CNN to the village in eastern China where blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng lives with his family in complete isolation.

They were stopped at the entrance to Dongshigu village in Shandong province by unidentified men.

The footage shows Bale asking to see Chen, with a CNN producer providing interpretation, but being ordered by one of the guards to leave. He then asked why he was unable to pass through. The guards responded by trying to grab or punch a small video camera Bale was carrying.

"What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is," Bale was quoted as saying by CNN.

Journalists and scores of Chinese human rights activists have sought to visit Chen in the past, all unsuccessfully. Chen's case has also been raised publicly by U.S. congressmen 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 for best foreign language film Oscar. It said he "reached out to CNN and invited us to join him on his journey to visit Chen."

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