Law­suit seeks $164 mil­lion in breach of fam­ily plan­ning laws

Lawyers want to use the case to ex­press anger against na­tional pol­icy vi­o­la­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By YU RAN in Shang­hai and XU WEI in Bei­jing

Two lawyers filed a pub­lic in­ter­est law­suit against film di­rec­tor Zhang Yi­mou on Thurs­day for his vi­o­la­tion of the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy.

They also wanted to use the suit to air their anger at the pol­icy’s fail­ure to con­strain celebri­ties and the rich.

Fam­ily plan­ning au­thor­i­ties in Wuxi, Jiangsu prov­ince, found that Zhang fa­thered three chil­dren with his wife Chen Ting be­fore they mar­ried in 2011. Un­der the pol­icy, Zhang can have only one child.

Jia Fangyi, one of the two lawyers, ac­cused Zhang of in­fring­ing upon pub­lic in­ter­ests.

“The rich have be­come in­creas­ingly au­da­cious by vi­o­lat­ing the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy just be­cause they are rich enough to pay the fine, and they take an ex­tra share of re­sources from so­ci­ety,” Jia said in a state­ment.

“It’s un­fair to the poor and those who strictly fol­low the na­tional pol­icy.”

Jia filed the law­suit with the In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court in Wuxi and re­quested the court fine Zhang 500 mil­lion yuan ($82.1 mil­lion) in com­pen­sa­tion for pub­lic re­sources and another 500 mil­lion yuan for pun­ish­ment.

Guo Chengxi, the other lawyer, added that an in­creas­ing num­ber of celebri­ties are of 65,000 ne­ti­zens polled said they were con­cerned about the trend in which the wealthy vi­o­late the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy flout­ing the fam­ily plan­ning reg­u­la­tion, bring­ing neg­a­tive so­cial ef­fects.

Qi Lian­feng, a lawyer with the Yingke Law Firm in Bei­jing, said there is slim chance that the court would ac­cept the case, as the Civil Pro­ce­dure Law re­quires plain­tiffs to be di­rectly re­lated to the case.

But he said the ap­pli­ca­tion re­flects pub­lic dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the rich.

In an online sur­vey by, 72.7 per­cent of 65,000 ne­ti­zens polled said they were con­cerned about the trend in which the wealthy vi­o­late the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy.

More than half of the re­spon­dents said they be­lieve Zhang pro­cras­ti­nated in re­spond­ing to the pub­lic outcry to­ward his ac­tions and that he apol­o­gized only un­der grow­ing so­cial pres­sure.

The fam­ily plan­ning bureau in Binhu dis­trict, Wuxi, where Zhang’s wife hails from, started an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in May. But it was not un­til early this month that Zhang pub­licly ad­mit­ted hav­ing three chil­dren and apol­o­gized. He has re­ceived no pun­ish­ment yet.

Gu Xiaom­ing, a so­ci­ol­o­gist from Fu­dan Univer­sity in Shang­hai, said Zhang should be heav­ily pun­ished as he has set a bad ex­am­ple.

On Wed­nes­day, Zhang re­sponded to ques­tions such as why he did not opt for em­i­gra­tion, say­ing “he wants his chil­dren to re­main Chi­nese”.

Some Chi­nese celebri­ties evade the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy by hav­ing for­eign ci­ti­zen­ship or giv­ing birth out­side the Chi­nese main­land.

Mean­while, the fam­ily plan­ning au­thor­ity in Wuxi said it is in­ves­ti­gat­ing how Zhang man­aged to get hukou, or per­ma­nent res­i­dence per­mits, for his three chil­dren.

Ac­cord­ing to fam­ily plan­ning reg­u­la­tions in Jiangsu prov­ince, cou­ples who vi­o­late the poli­cies have to pay fines five to eight times the av­er­age an­nual in­come of the area where the chil­dren were born.

If a cou­ple’s an­nual in­come is more than dou­ble the area’s av­er­age in­come, the cou­ple will be sub­ject to ad­di­tional fines. The amount of any fine varies in dif­fer­ent coun­ties or cities. Cang Wei in Nan­jing con­trib­uted to this story. Con­tact the writ­ers at yu­ran@chi­ and xuwei@chi­nadaily.

Zhang Yi­mou:

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