by Ben Johnson
HOLLYWOOD, CA December 23, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The manhandling of actor Christian Bale as he attempted to visit a Chinese human rights activist known for speaking out against China’s brutal one-child policy, could cost China its chance to win an academy award this year.
Bale in his role as a Catholic priest in the movie
Bale stars in The Flowers of War, a film produced in China about the 1937 Rape of Nanking. The film opened in limited release today in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, to assure its eligibility for best foreign language film.
Director Zhang Yimou downplayed any interest in the award, telling China Daily: “We can work as hard as possible but really it’s up to the gods. I really don’t understand what the rules are for getting an Oscar.”
But Entertainment Weekly insists, “make no mistake: China covets an Oscar that would legitimize its booming movie industry.” China’s two previous academy award entries did not receive the nod.
“Now with its spotlight film’s most visible star at odds with the government, the chances of a Chinese Oscar could be dead on arrival,” the magazine reported.
Bale, who is best known for portraying Batman in The Dark Knight, was roughed up by Chinese guards when he attempted to visit Chen Guangcheng, the activist who exposed China’s use of forced abortion and sterilization in 2005. Since serving four years and three months in prison, Guangcheng has languished under house arrest.
“Why can I not visit this free man?” Bale asked, as he was manhandled.
“What I really wanted to do was shake the man’s hand and say ‘thank you,’ and tell him what an inspiration he is,” Bale told media outlets after being denied access.
On Wednesday, the Chinese government blamed Bale for provoking the incident. Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said the star “should feel embarrassed.”
He went on to hint Bale would not be invited back to China. “China did not invite him to some village in Shandong to create news or make a film,” he said. “If he went there to create news, I don’t think that would be welcomed in China.”
Former Tiananmen Square activist Chai Ling has said China’s one-child policy is responsible for 35,000 forced abortions each day.