Probe into director’s breach of one-child law

By Wen Ya Source:Global Times Published: 2013-5-10 0:48:01

Family planning authorities in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, said Thursday they are investigating reports that famed movie director Zhang Yimou has fathered seven children by four different women.

The Wuxi Health and Family Planning Commission said Thursday it will probe whether the 61-year-old Zhang has violated family planning regulations.

The commission also assured that the results of investigation will be publicly released as soon as possible, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Online rumors said that if the allegations are proven, the director might face a fine of 160 million yuan ($26.08 million), according to Zhejiang-based Modern Gold Express.

Local authorities in Wuxi said he will be punished in accordance with the law if he did indeed father the children, although it is not known where the children were born.

However, the Jiangsu provincial commission said it is too early to jump to any conclusions.

Zhang's first wife Xiao Hua gave birth to their only child, daughter Zhang Mo in 1983, the newspaper reported.

Zhang later had a son in 2001 with the then 19-year-old Chen Ting, who is from Wuxi, followed by their second son in 2004 and a girl in 2006. The couple  did not marry until December 2011.

One insider who is familiar with Chen, claimed that Chen told him that Zhang had fathered three children with two other women, the Guangzhou-based Information Times reported. The report did not disclose the identities of the two women.

Calls to the Wuxi commission went unanswered Thursday and Zhang could not be reached by the Global Times as of late Thursday.

"Celebrities have no privilege to flout the law," Song Jian, an associate professor with the School of Sociology and Population Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times, adding that how to punish Zhang depends on his marital status and local regulations.

"The fine will also be fixed based on Zhang's income," said Liang Zhongtang, a former expert with the National Population and Family Planning Commission. Zhang would be able to bear a huge fine, he noted.

However, Yang Zhizhu, an associate professor with China Youth University for Political Sciences, who was fired for having a second child, told the Global Times that it is unfair to fine Zhang even he is proved to have fathered seven children.

"Without considering his relationships with the four women, I would like to congratulate Zhang. A father who is willing to raise seven kids is rare now," Yang said. "The policy is unreasonable as no child should be abandoned."

China's family planning policy was introduced in the late 1970s to rein in the increasing population. In recent years, more experts have called for a loosening up of the policy due to a fall in the youth workforce and the low birth rate.

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