Chinese officials investigate reports of film director fathering seven children

Zhang Yimou faces €20m fine if found in breach of one-child policy

Chinese director Zhang Yimou reportedly has up to seven children from his two marriages and from relationships with two other women. Photograph: Reuters

Chinese director Zhang Yimou reportedly has up to seven children from his two marriages and from relationships with two other women. Photograph: Reuters

 

Government officials in China are investigating reports that Zhang Yimou, one of the country’s best-known film directors, has fathered numerous children in violation of the one child policy and faces a fine of 160 million yuan (€20 million).

The Hero director reportedly has up to seven children from his two marriages and from relationships with two other women, which contravenes family planning regulations.

“A team has been dispatched to deal with the case and a report will be released to the public as soon as possible,” an unnamed official from Wuxi family planning authority in eastern Jiangsu told China Daily .

He has one daughter from his first marriage, who is studying in the US. Mr Zhang’s second wife, a former actor Chen Ting, was from Wuxi, and he reportedly has three children with her – two sons, Yinan (13) and Yiding (9) and a daughter, Yijiao (7). The newspaper ran a photograph of Ms Chen with three children.

There is widespread speculation online and in local media that he has three children with another, anonymous woman.

The People’s Daily newspaper said he could face a fine of twice his annual income or 160 million yuan. Under the one-child policy, imposed in 1979 as a way of reining in population growth already running at dangerously high levels in the world’s most populous nation, most families are limited to one child.

Many rural residents and ethnic minorities are allowed to have two children, while there are no restrictions on Tibetans can have.

For many in the industry, Zhang’s career has been one of poacher turned gamekeeper.

Films such as Red Sorghum and To Live earned him official bans. In recent years he has been rehabilitated and choreographed the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

There has been widespread speculation in China that the government is planning to relax the one-child policy because the gr

eying population is putting pressure on the already rudimentary pensions system and has led to a worrying number of males relative to females, as people, from rural areas especially, favour boys.

The National Population and Family Planning Commission reckons that some 400 million births have been prevented by the policy. Whenever voices in the West complain about the one-child policy, Chinese population experts urge them to think of the global ramifications of 1.7 billion Chinese, instead of 1.3 billion.