NRL News

“Comedy” to be Filmed in town where Chinese Human Rights Advocate Beaten and Extra-legally Detained

by | Nov 8, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Chen Guancheng

Last week we ran a story about the egregious ongoing violations of human rights in China which feared indignant remarks by pro-life Congressman Chris Smith (“China’s One-Child per Couple Population Policy, with its reliance on forced abortion, called ‘weapons of mass destruction’ against women and children”).

In documenting China’s abysmal record, Smith talked about a hearing he had chaired on the plight of Chinese activist lawyer Chen Guancheng and his wife Yuan Weijing

“who since 2005 have been subjected to beatings, extralegal detention, numerous violations of their rights under criminal procedure law, confiscation of their personal belongings, 24-hour surveillance and invasion of their privacy, disconnection from all forms of communication, and even denial of education for their six-year old daughter.

Blinded by a childhood disease, Chen Guangcheng began his legal advocacy career in 1996 educating disabled citizens and farmers about their rights. Decades later, when local villagers started coming to him with their stories of forced abortions and forced sterilizations, Chen and his wife Yuan Weijing documented these stories, later building briefs and lawsuits against the officials involved. When Chen investigated and intervened with a class action suit on behalf of women in Linyi City who suffered horrific abuse under China’s one child per couple policy, he was arrested, detained and tortured. He and his wife and child remain under house arrest—and at grave risk of additional harm.

Well, subsequently a reader forwarded me an article from my local paper, the Washington Post, that I had missed. “Hollywood stirs outrage with comedy filmed in notorious Chinese city” tells a true story of staggering ethical blindness.

Reporter Andrew Higgins reported that howls of outrage have greeted a decision by Hollywood’s Relativity Media to begin filming a “hilarious comedy” in Eastern China—in Linyi!  Name of this “wild epic misadventure of debauchery and mayhem” which will be partially shot “in a place as amazing as Linyi”? “21 and Over.”

Chen’s supporters are outraged. As one blogger put it, continue the filming “but the name of the film should be changed to ‘Country of Doomsday, City of Hell.’”

Prior to last week’s congressional hearing Chen’s supporters had pleaded with  the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing to intervene with Linyi officials. Higgins reports

“The move followed an incident Sunday in which dozens of unidentified men allegedly attacked visitors to Linyi as they tried to get to Chen’s home — the latest in a long string of assaults, apparently orchestrated by Linyi’s party apparatus, on outsiders seeking to reach the activist.”

According to Higgins Relativity Media “declined to comment on its decision to film part of the comedy in Linyi and the dismay it has caused.”

The director of the Linyi Propaganda Department’s Culture Industry Office, told Higgins that the district hoped to become a center for movie-making and that the American comedy “will be a good chance to publicize Linyi and will help make Linyi famous not only in China, but also the world.”

Higgins adds, “Asked about Chen and complaints about his treatment, Su [Guiyou] said he had never heard of the activist and hung up.”

Higgins also interviewed, Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch. Richardson said

“she agreed with the filmmakers that ‘Linyi is an ‘amazing place’  but said this is because of the ‘amazing abuses Linyi officials have heaped on one of China’s best-known legal rights activists and his family. . . . It’s almost equally amazing that Relativity was unaware of Linyi’s notoriety.’”

Your feedback is so very important to improving National Right to Life News Today. Please send your comments to If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at

Categories: China