China's population

Zhang Yimou linked to '7 children', sparks debate over one-child policy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 May, 2013, 5:24pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 November, 2015, 4:11pm


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One of the mainland’s most prominent film directors could be slapped with a hefty fine for flouting the one-child policy after allegedly fathering seven children over the years with at least three different women.

From 2000 to 2006, Zhang Yimou fathered three children with actress Chen Ting before they married secretly in 2011, the Chongqing Evening News reported on Tuesday. They cited a source “close to the couple”.

Chen, 31, was Zhang’s second wife. He also had a daughter with first wife, Xiao Hua, and was further linked to three children from two unidentified women, the report said.

The 62-year-old director is behind acclaimed films Red Sorghum, House of Flying Daggers, The Flowers of War and spearheaded the closing ceremony at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Zhang has been romantically linked to mainland actress Gong Li.

Legal experts told news portal the couple could face fines of up to 160 million yuan (HK$202 million), based on their income.

Netizens joked that Zhang was being “ambushed on seven sides” - a spin on the Chinese title for House of Flying Daggers which literally translates to “ambushed on 10 sides”.

Others, however, criticised Zhang for exploiting his wealth and influence to circumvent the family-planning law while the poor had to go through forced abortions.

“Celebrities can go around having all the children they want now? Where is the law?” a microblogger said on Sina Weibo.

Under China’s controversial one-child policy, couples can only have a second child under certain conditions. Parents born in one-child families, for example, are allowed a second. Rich couples can also pay heavy fines to skirt the policy and have more children.