China pulls red carpet from under actor Bale

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Beijing has pulled the red carpet from under the feet of Christian Bale, the Oscar-winning actor who stars in China's latest box-office hit, after he tried to visit a detained dissident.

China's foreign ministry on Wednesday accused Bale of "fabricating news" after the Hollywood actor made international headlines last week when he tried to visit a blind lawyer-dissident being held under house arrest.

The British actor, who was in China to promote his Nanjing Massacre film "The Flowers of War", was stopped Thursday on the outskirts of the village in eastern China where the activist Chen Guangcheng is being detained.

Asked by reporters if China was embarrassed by Bale's actions, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said: "I think it is the relevant actor who should feel embarrassed instead of the Chinese side."

"The Chinese side will not welcome him to make news in China," Liu added, suggesting Bale would not be allowed back into the country.

Bale, describing Chen as a personal "inspiration", invited a CNN crew to accompany him on an eight-hour drive from Beijing to the village in Linyi district, where he was stopped by guards.

"Why can I not visit this free man?" Bale asked repeatedly, as the guards tried to snatch a camera from the star of "The Dark Knight" and "The Fighter" and drag him away.

Chen, who exposed abuses in the "one-child" population control policy, has been under house arrest since September 2010 when he completed a prison term of more than four years.

"I'm not being brave doing this," Bale said, once he and the crew had retreated to their van and made their getaway.

"The local people who are standing up to the authorities, who are visiting Chen and his family and getting beaten up for it... I want to support what they're doing," he said.

While Bale may have fallen out of favour with Beijing, his film set during the massacre -- in which Japanese troops killed tens of thousands of Chinese civilians during 1937-38 -- has been a hit with local moviegoers.

Industry figures show it has topped the Chinese box office with takings of more than 150 million yuan ($23.7 million) since it opened on December 15.