Tue, Dec 03, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Filmmaker Zhang says he has four children, apologizes

AFP, BEIJING

One of China’s top movie directors has admitted having three children with his current wife, according to a studio media posting, apologizing after months of speculation he broke the country’s controversial family planning laws.

Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), the maker of Raise the Red Lantern and Red Sorghum, has two sons and a daughter with his current wife, the Yimou Studio said in its verified account on microblogging site Sina Weibo.

That would mean Zhang, 62, has a total of four children, including a daughter with his ex-wife.

Zhang “would like to make a sincere apology to the public for the negative ramifications caused,” said the posting by Yimou Studio, which says it is affiliated to the director.

The disclosure comes after months of speculation that he has seven or eight children by three or four women.

Yimou Studio dismissed those allegations as “untrue” and threatened to hold the rumor-mongers legally responsible.

“The false allegations have seriously affected the normal life of Zhang Yimou’s family and led to an egregious impact on society,” the statement said. “We are collecting and sorting out relevant evidence against the rumor-mongers and preserve the right to pursue their legal liability.”

China has implemented its family planning law for more than 30 years, which currently restricts most parents to one child, with exceptions including some rural families whose first child is a girl, ethnic minorities, and couples who are both only children.

The Chinese Communist Party said last month it would relax the regulations by allowing couples to have two children if one of the parents is an only child.

Reaction to the Yimou Studio statement was mixed yesterday.

“He obviously violated the law, yet he shamelessly claims their life was seriously affected,” a comment posted on Sina Weibos said.

However, some argued having children was a human right and that it was time for the family planning policy to be shelved.

If found guilty of breaching the one-child policy, Zhang could be fined about US$100,000, according to the per capita income in Wuxi and the number of children involved, the state-run Beijing News reported yesterday.

However, Xinhua news agency said that Jiangsu Province fines violators five to eight times the couple’s joint income, so the potential penalty ranged as high as 160 million yuan (US$26 million).

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