Film director Zhang Yimou. Photo: AFP

Movie director Zhang Yimou’s agent summoned over family planning allegations

Acclaimed director Zhang continues to elude Wuxi Family Planning Commission seeking to question him over reports he fathered seven offspring in contravention of one-child policy

Authorities will question the agent of acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou after the director went missing following allegations he had fathered seven children, a breach of China’s one-child policy, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The agent for Zhang, the director of epics and , was summoned to the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi to answer allegations against him, Xinhua said late on Friday, citing the local family planning bureau.

In May, online reports surfaced that Zhang, who dazzled the world in 2008 with his Beijing Olympic opening ceremony, had at least seven children and could be liable for a 160 million yuan (HK$202 million) fine, Xinhua said.

The Xinhua report gave no further details about the case.

Authorities said this month they were unable to locate Zhang and had dispatched teams to track down the director and his wife Chen Ting.

The Wuxi Family Planning Commission “has done everything possible to contact Zhang Yimou and Chen Ting and dispatched a work team that rushed to Beijing to look for Zhang, but there were no results ... they could not find [him]”, Xinhua said.

Zhang, 61, was once the bad boy of Chinese cinema, whose movies were banned at home but popular overseas. He has since become a darling of the ruling Communist Party, while long being a subject of tabloid gossip for alleged trysts with his actresses.

The government said last week that it would allow couples to have a second child if one of the parents was an only child. It was the most significant relaxation of its population control regime in nearly three decades.