Di­rec­tor Zhang Yi­mou sorry for vi­o­lat­ing fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By GAO CHANGXIN in Shang­hai gaochangxin@chi­

The Chi­nese di­rec­tor who daz­zled the world in 2008 with his Bei­jing Olympics open­ing cer­e­mony apol­o­gized on Sun­day for vi­o­lat­ing the na­tion’s fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy.

Zhang Yi­mou, 62, who also di­rected the block­busters Red Sorghum, Raise the Red Lan­tern and House of Fly­ing Dag­gers, ad­mit­ted in a video in­ter­view with Xin­hua News Agency that he had “done wrong” and that the in­ci­dent has harmed his rep­u­ta­tion “tremen­dously”.

“I have done wrong and won’t blame any­one else. I will co­op­er­ate fully with fam­ily plan­ning au­thor­i­ties in the city of Wuxi,” Zhang told Xin­hua.

The me­dia in­ter­view was Zhang’s first since online re­ports sur­faced in May ac­cus­ing him of hav­ing fa­thered at least seven chil­dren with mul­ti­ple women and say­ing he faced a fine of 160 mil­lion yuan ($26.4 mil­lion).

In Novem­ber, the fam­ily plan­ning au­thor­ity in Wuxi, Jiangsu prov­ince, where Zhang’s chil­dren’s hukou — house­hold reg­is­tra­tion — is lo­cated, said they were un­able to find Zhang. Mean­while, the au­thor­ity faced grow­ing pub­lic pres­sure over “fair­ness” in han­dling Zhang’s case.

On Dec 1, in a state­ment pub­lished through his stu­dio, Zhang ac­knowl­edged that he and his wife, Chen Ting, gave birth to two sons and a daugh­ter, and he is will­ing to pay fines.

On Dec 10, Yao Hong­wen, spokesman for the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, promised that Zhang will re­ceive no fa­voritism, adding that “no­body is en­ti­tled to give birth to more chil­dren than al­lowed”.

Zhang, who has a daugh­ter with his ex-wife, told Xin­hua that he had three chil­dren with Chen be­cause he fol­lowed his fa­ther’s wish to have sons to con­tinue the fam­ily blood­line.

Zhang’s three chil­dren with Chen were born in 2001, 2004 and 2006 in Bei­jing, be­fore the cou­ple mar­ried in 2011. Chen told Xin­hua that they fell in love in 1999 and were not will­ing to reg­is­ter as hus­band and wife for fear of me­dia ex­po­sure.

Chen de­nied me­dia re­ports that Zhang had at least seven chil­dren with mul­ti­ple women, call­ing it a ru­mor “that has hurt the fam­ily”.

The in­ci­dent, cou­pled with Zhang’s aver­sion of the me­dia, stirred a heated dis­cus­sion online. At the center of the dis­cus­sion was whether it is fair for wealthy cit­i­zens to buy their way out of the onechild pol­icy.

A re­cent online sur­vey by ynet. com found that about 70 per­cent of peo­ple are un­sat­is­fied with Zhang’s apol­ogy, say­ing it is un­fair that Zhang can buy priv­i­leges with money.

Zhou Hai­wang, deputy di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Pop­u­la­tion and De­vel­op­ment un­der the Shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sciences, told China Daily that the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy doesn’t fa­vor the rich be­cause the fine is set based on per­sonal in­come.

Xin­hua cited lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the Wuxi au­thor­ity and Zhang on Sun­day as say­ing Zhang might need to pay a fine of at least 7 mil­lion yuan.

Zhou added that Zhang’s high- pro­file case serves as a warn­ing to the rest of the coun­try.

“When peo­ple see the gov­ern­ment gets tough on celebri­ties, they know they can’t get away with it,” he said.

On Satur­day, the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, China’s top leg­is­la­ture, for­mally al­lowed cou­ples in which ei­ther par­ent has no sib­lings to have two chil­dren, as the na­tion faces loom­ing de­mo­graphic chal­lenges, in­clud­ing a rapidly grow­ing el­derly pop­u­la­tion, a shrink­ing la­bor force and male-fe­male im­bal­ance.

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