Filmmaker Zhang Yimou faces 7m yuan fine over family size

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 11:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 11:02pm

Film director Zhang Yimou might be fined more than seven million yuan (HK$8.95 million) for violating the mainland's birth-control policies, state media reported yesterday, as the couple said years of hiding their children had been a "pain".

In an interview with Xinhua, Zhang - who fathered two sons and a daughter with his current wife, Chen Ting - said he would take full responsibility for his wrongdoing. He said his parents influenced his decisions about fatherhood.

"My father told me before he died that he wished to have a boy carry on the family line," Zhang said. "My mother felt that children needed company."

Watch: In a video, director Zhang Yimou apologizes for violating China’s one-child policy

Citing a government lawyer from the Hubin district family planning agency, which was handling the case, the report said Zhang's annual income in the years 2000, 2003 and 2005 - the years before the births of his children and which form the basis for the fine - ranged from 2,760 yuan to 2.5 million yuan.

Average urban residents' disposable income in those years ranged from 8,603 yuan to 16,005 yuan.

The filmmaker, who has directed several world-famous movies and oversaw the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, told Xinhua that a film director's income could fluctuate a lot. The fine would be based on Jiangsu province's laws and local Wuxi city regulations, the report said, adding that the district family planning agency had notified Zhang of the fine on Saturday.

Since it was revealed in online reports in May that Zhang might have violated family planning laws, there has been speculation the filmmaker may have leveraged his fame for privilege.

Zhang's wife told Xinhua they had not received any special treatment from the authorities on account of her husband's celebrity.

"If we had have been given special treatment, our children would have obtained their legal status earlier, and the situation of today could have been avoided," Chen said.

She added that the couple did not register their children until 2011 out of fear that Zhang's career might be affected.