Christian Bale honored Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng on October 24 at the Human Rights First Dinner.
Guangcheng, who is a blind lawyer and human rights activist, made headlines in December after the Chinese government allowed him and his family to travel to the United States, following his escape from house arrest and request for American protection at the U.S. Embassy.
Human Rights First gave Guangcheng its 2012 Human Rights Award. Bale presented the honor to his activist friend and was seen hugging him at the podium.
The 38-year-old actor attempted to visit Guangcheng in December 2011 and was attacked by governmental security guards. A video of the incident, which took place on December 15, was posted online. Bale was not harmed.
A spokesperson for the country's Foreign Ministry, Liu Weimin, said at the time that he thought Bale, not China, should feel embarrassed about the event, the Associated Press news wire reported.
Guangcheng had been confined to his home in the village of Dongshigu for more than a year and also served time in jail for damaging property and helping to organize a protest. His campaigns against issues such as forced abortions have drawn global attention to human rights issues in China, a Communist state.
Guangcheng is now studying law at New York University and lives in New York with his family. He is also working on a memoir, which is slated for release next year.
"What I really wanted to do is shake the man's hand and say, 'Thank you' and tell him what an inspiration he is," Bale told CNN in a video interview last December.
Bale and his wife Sibi had attended a premiere in Beijing to promote his film "The Flowers of War," which was shot in China and was released there on December 16.
The Associated Press quoted the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying that the actor was invited by director Zhang Yimou to attend the opening ceremony of the movie, adding: "But he was not invited to create a story or shoot film in a certain village. I think if you want to make up news in China, you will not be welcome here."
"The Flowers of War" is based on the Yan Geling novel "13 Flowers of Nanjing" and is set in 1937. Bale plays a phony priest who tries to protect schoolgirls at a cathedral from invading Japanese soldiers. Meanwhile, prostitutes arrive and volunteer to replace the students as escorts for the troops.
Bale rose to fame as the teenage star of Steven Spielberg's 1987 film "Empire of the Sun", which is about a young English boy in China who struggles to survive after the invasion of Japanese forces during World War II.
In 2010, he won his first Oscar, for his role in "The Fighter." Bale is currently known best for his role as Batman and the superhero's alter ego Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's hit film series, starting with "Batman Begins" in 2005. He reprised his role in the 2008 movie "The Dark Knight" and in the third installment, "The Dark Knight Rises," which hit theaters in July.
Bale made a personal visit to Aurora, Colorado to meet with several survivors of the deadly mass shooting that took place at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in July.
In September, the actor also visited with a 4-year-old boy battling cancer and flew him and his family to Disneyland in California.
Check out a video of Christian Bale and the CNN crew being attacked by guards in China below, as well as a trailer for "The Flowers of War" below.