Batman vs. China

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Given Hollywood’s history of kowtowing before left-wing dictators, from Fidel Castro to Hugo Chavez, it’s novel for a silver-screen celebrity to make news for confronting a repressive communist regime. But “Batman” star Christian Bale stirred up a worthy row recently when he clashed with Chinese security forces after attempting to meet with Chinese civil-rights activist Chen Guangcheng.

Backed by a CNN camera crew, Bale tried to make his way to Chen’s house in the village of Dongshigu. That proved unacceptable to the government security guards who keep Chen under house arrest. After blocking Bale’s path and assaulting his crew, the guards chased them from the village. Rapid economic growth has brought China positive press in recent years, but Bale’s experience is a reminder that, despite its new capitalist face, China remains a quintessentially communist county in its rigid intolerance of dissent.

Chen Guangcheng’s story is a prime example. His crime in the eyes of Chinese authorities is exposing the government’s often-brutal strategies for population control in the country’s rural areas under its notorious one-child policy. Chen collected evidence showing that the government has resorted to everything from forced late-term abortions to compulsory sterilization to enforce the policy, giving the lie to the frequent denials of Chinese leaders  that such a policy exists.

For bringing the state’s cruelties to light Chen, a self-taught lawyer who has been blind since infancy, has been the victim of an unrelenting government harassment campaign. In 2006, he was “disappeared” for three months, resurfacing from an unidentified detention center just in time to face a trial on trumped up charges of “damaging property and organizing a mob to disrupt traffic.” After just two hours, he was sentenced to four years in jail. When he challenged the verdict at a subsequent retrial, key witnesses for his defense disappeared, one by one. The court upheld the verdict anyway.
Officially, Chen is now under so-called “soft-detention.” But that’s an absurd description of someone who is unable to leave his house, even to visit a hospital for treatment, and who is beaten and abused by government security. And, as Bale discovered, no one is permitted to meet with him.

The irony is that Bale was in China to make a film that, according to early reviews, is effectively pro-China propaganda. “The Flowers of War,” in which Bale stars, tells the story of the 1937 massacre of the Chinese city of Nanjing (formerly Nanking) by Japanese troops. In the horrific six-week siege, Japanese soldiers systematically raped, tortured and killed Chinese civilians. The final death toll was estimated to be between 250,000 and 300,000. The atrocity has long soured Sino-Japanese relations, but since the 1980s the Chinese government has sought to use it for political advantage, as a way to promote nationalist and patriotic sentiment. Whatever its merits as a film, “The Flowers of War” seems intended to compliment that propaganda effort. Partially funded by the Chinese government, the film takes a one-dimensional view of the Japanese, portraying them as “monochrome monsters,” as the Wall Street Journal described it.

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  • jeffersontom

    "Batman" should stay in the batcave and keep his batmouth shut…He is an ACTOR…
    Not a thinker…

    • jeffrey

      this is the common actor-just-acts-cause-they-are-named-so fallacy.

      actually actors, just as pilots, musicians, body builders, authors, bus drivers have basically the same ability to searsch the world for justice , and if they can, to draw attention to malpractice. socially engaged actors can use their popularity to draw attention more effectively like for instance marlon brando.

      i do not think you can judge a persons mental and moral capabilites by watching him in an action movie.
      it is like judging your capabilities by observing how you defecates.

  • Meagan

    I am proud of Bale for taking a stand against a communist regime that is still very cruel to its citizens. While they may give out billions of dollars to governments to keep everyone out of their unethical crimes against humanity and keep politicians content to look the other way, Bale has reminded us all that China is not a friend, but a powerful force that has and uses great power, including propaganda, censorship, and criminal conspiracies against those who dare challenge them.

    • ben dover

      propaganda censorship and criminal conspiracies….hmmmm…sounds familiar

      • Rifleman

        Yea, that would cover the democrat party. The USA ain't near as bad as red china, but the dp sure would like it to be.

  • JOHN


    • Liam

      Yeah, John, you’re right. When it comes to civil liberties, we should all follow Chains China’s lead. If we all became fascists, our only problem would be cancer.

      Then again, ya know what’s worse than cancer? Stupidity. I hope yours isn’t contagious.

      The only reason you can give voice to your idiocy on a public forum is that we have freedoms the Chinese do not. I think your statement is moronic, but I defend your right to make it, in the same way that as a Christian I defend the rights of Muslims to peaceably worship as they see fit.


      • John_Kelly

        Perhaps you are totally ignorant of the facts that wherever Islam spreads the Christians are persecuted and their churches are being burnt to the ground.
        Want proof? Just ask anyone who had to leave Lebanon in the past 40 years.

        Right now the Coptic Christians are being killed in Egypt, the Christians are almost be extinct in Iraq. In Dafur they are being butchered. In Indonesia churches are burned down.

        Just name me one Western country where this behavior is reciprocated to Muslims.

        You said “as a Christian I defend the rights of Muslims to peaceably worship as they see fit.”

        I can only surmise that you are:

        a. A very ignorant Christian.


        b. A Muslim troll.

        • Roco

          So Liam opposes the call for fascism and genocide and all you can think is he's a fool or a troll? You can't let the hatred go long enough to agree that fascism and genocide are bad. Then again this is FPM so maybe as a good FPMer fascism and genocide aren't bad things after all.

          • John_Kelly

            You conveniently ignored the core of my comments to focus on one minor issue.

            Just for the record I am totally opposed to fascism and genocide and anyone with even half a brain knows that Islam perpetrates both in super-abundance.

            So Rocco do the world a favor and get your facts straight then slither back to the Huffington Post or any other brain dead, left wing site where they might just appreciate your point of view.

  • Amber

    I didn’t know it was possible to be systemically raped, tortured & killed… I think you were looking for ‘systematically’.

    • Jacob

      Quite right. Darn autocorrect. Now fixed. Thanks.

  • Misfit

    Although I agree totally that the Chinese government is a repressive and abusive system and should not do what it does, yet what gives you the right to impose yourself do, say, visit, force or whatever you want on their own house. "Batman" knows who and what the Chinese governement is and what would happen if you try to do something that is forbidden in that place but he did it so now he getting press not only for the "incident" but for his upcomming picture. Apparently the movie was funded and partially funded by the Chinese government, so why did he do it knowing the poor record of that government. I always wanted to go and see China but I hate the government, so I have this private self imposed exile and most likely I will never go to China (until the government changes)

  • tanstaafl

    I refuse to visit either Communist or Islamic cesspools.

  • American Thinker

    An elite "progressive" confronted dead on with a forceful statist "NO!"-
    LOL – say it ain't so.

  • Questions

    A lot of people forget that Christian Bale began his film career as a child actor in Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" (1987), playing a boy in WWII Shanghai kidnapped by the Japanese and sent to an internment camp. The film, based on the J.G. Ballard novel, left him with strong feelings about life under tyranny. Recall as well, more recently, his lead turn in Werner Herzog's "Rescue Dawn" (2007) as an American POW who escaped from a Communist Laotian prison camp during the Indochina War.

    The "Batman" fims are fine, but that's not what shaped Bale.

  • Ghostwriter

    In many ways,Christian Bale has done the world a service. Although he acted in a film about the Rape of Nanking,an historical fact by the way,he also showed that China is still an authoritarian country that doesn't like dissent. That's what much of Asia's dealing with right now. I think that Christian Bale did a good thing for the world,whatever else come out he did a good thing.

  • SpiritOf1683

    And lets not forget that 75 million Chinese have been murdered by the ruling Communists since 1949 – at least five times as many as were butchered by the Japanese.