Human Rights First, a rights organisation in New York, gave its 2012 Human Rights Award to Mr Chen at its annual gala on Wednesday.
The award was presented by the Oscar-winning actor Bale, who tried to meet the activist in China in December last year only to be assaulted and turned away by officials.
In April, Mr Chen made headlines worldwide when, days ahead of a diplomatic visit to China by Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, he escaped 19 months of house arrest and sought protection from the United States.
His dramatic escape set off a diplomatic furore between the United States and China, before being allowed to leave the country with his family.
For more than 20 years, he spoke out against government policies and, after bringing a lawsuit against China’s one-child policy, was arrested and jailed in 2006.
Upon bring released about four years later, Mr Chen was placed under house arrest in Linyi in eastern Shandong province, from which he escaped to seek refuge in the US Embassy.
Bale tried to visit Mr Chen in December while promoting his new film, the Flowers of War, which was China’s entry to the Oscars.
As the actor approached Mr Chen’s home village, he was stopped by four men in plain clothes who told him to go away before a scuffle ensued.
“This doesn’t come naturally to me, this is not what I actually enjoy, it isn’t about me,” Bale said at the time. “But this was just a situation that said I can’t look the other way.”
“I’m not brave doing this,” he added. “The local people who are standing up to the authorities, who are visiting Chen and his family and getting beaten or detained, I want to support them.”