Director Zhang Yimou won't get favour, family planing agency vows

Film director's breach of the one-child policy will be handled strictly by the book, without any special treatment, family planning officials say

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 4:39am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 6:29am

The mainland's family planning authority yesterday vowed to grant no favours to film director Zhang Yimou , saying his breach of the one-child policy would be handled strictly according to the law.

Zhang, the internationally acclaimed director of such films as Hero and House of Flying Daggers and the director of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, has admitted he fathered one daughter and two sons with his wife Chen Ting.

He said he would co-operate with the family planning authority's investigation and accept punishment.

"On the issue of the birth policy violation by Zhang Yimou and Chen Ting, the authority with the household registration of the party concerned is in the process of investigation and verification," National Health and Family Planning Commission spokesman Yao Hongwen said at a press briefing yesterday.

"It will be handled in accordance with the law and regulations. The commission's attitude towards citizens' birth violations is consistent and clear … every citizen is equal before the law, nobody enjoys privilege," Yao said.

This was the first time the commission has responded publicly to Zhang's violation of the one-child policy since allegations against him surfaced online in May.

The family planning office at the Binhu district of Wuxi in Jiangsu province, where Chen' household is registered, said last week the couple had three children in 2001, 2004 and 2006 in Beijing, without getting approval from the family planning authorities and out of wedlock. The couple married in 2011.

Two lawyers, Guo Chengxi and Jia Fangyi, have filed a public interest lawsuit against Zhang for violating family planning policy and allegedly harming the public interest.

They said in a statement the rich and famous thought they could have more children because they had enough money to pay any fines. Their children took an unfair share of public resources, the lawyers said.

The suit was filed at a court in Wuxi and called for Zhang to be fined 1 billion yuan (HK$1.2 billion) as punishment and for compensation for the use of public services.

The mainland's family planning policy, introduced in the late 1970s to curb the country's growing population, allows most couples in cities to have one child and most rural couples two.

The policy was relaxed to allow couples who are single children themselves to have a second child.

People who violate the birth control policy can face hefty fines. State media have speculated that Zhang faces a particularly high penalty because of the number of children involved and due to his high annual income.

Some media have suggested Zhang may have to pay as much as 240 million yuan based on an estimated annual income of 80 million yuan. The family planning authority in Wuxi has demanded Zhang truthfully report his annual income to help it calculate any possible fine.