Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

China: Filmmaker Zhang Yimou fined $1.2M for breach of one-child policy

By Naomi Ng for CNN
January 10, 2014 -- Updated 0627 GMT (1427 HKT)
This file photo shows Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou attending a commercial event in Beijing in April.
This file photo shows Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou attending a commercial event in Beijing in April.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Renowned Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou penalized for violating China's one-child policy
  • Local authorities demand a hefty fine of 7.48 million yuan ($1.21 million)
  • Zhang apologized in December for his "excessive children."
  • Zhang and his wife admitted to having two sons and a daughter

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Oscar-nominated Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou has been fined 7.48 million yuan ($1.2 million) for breaching China's one-child policy, authorities say.

A letter sent to Zhang by the family planning bureau of Binhu District of Wuxi City, Jiangsu province in eastern China on Thursday demanded that he pay a penalty for having two "beyond-the-quota" children.

The letter was posted on the district's official account on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblogging service.

The fine comes after Zhang apologized in an open letter for his "excessive children" in December. He and his wife, Chen Ting, admitted to having two sons and a daughter.

READ: 'I have 3 kids,' Chinese filmmaker admits

Impact of China easing 'one child' policy
China's one child policy changes

"As a film director, it takes a lot of efforts and good movies for people to remember you, but having excessive children had ruined it all," he said, according to Xinhua, China's state news agency. "I sincerely apologize to everyone on my 'excessive children' case. I admit it's my mistake and I won't blame others for it."

"I will learn my lessons, and I'm willing to cooperate with any investigation from family planning commission," Zhang said.

Local officials in Jiangsu province calculated the fine based on the couple's combined annual income, the document stated. Nine investigation teams had been sent to "collect evidence" since November.

The couple have to pay the fine within 30 days of receiving the letter, local authorities added.

Zhang's case comes after China adopted new rules to ease its one-child policy in December.

READ: China eases one-child policy, ends re-education through labor camps

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed a resolution to allow couples to have two children if one of the parents was an only child, according to Xinhua.

Previously, a couple was only allowed a second child if both of them were only children.

However, Zhang, best known for movies such as "Red Sorghum," "Raise the Red Lantern," and "Hero," is unlikely to benefit from the change.

Zhang's breach of the policy has set off a firestorm, especially among some netizens who resent how the rich and famous in China flout rules and policies.

"Is this really a huge sum? Do you people know how much he makes from a single film? Some are saying that the fines are too heavy. All I can say is that this is nothing to him," Sina Weibo user__729_ wrote on China's equivalent of Twitter.

But Zhang also had his defenders.

"Zhang is a good fellow," wrote Sarah2007 on Sina Weibo.

"Even though the social maintenance fee is a ridiculous and shameless rip off, which no one knows what use it will be put to, he knows he has no choice, as a public figure, but to accept the fines with a with an earnest attitude."

The filmmaker also directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

READ: The girl with no identity: Being a second child in China

Opinion: China is not ending its human rights abuses

CNN's Jaime A. FlorCruz in Beijing and intern April Ma in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
The new U.S. deal with China on greenhouse gases faces enormous challenges in both countries. Jonathan Mann explains.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
November 3, 2014 -- Updated 0219 GMT (1019 HKT)
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 0500 GMT (1300 HKT)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT)
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
China sends an unmanned spacecraft to the moon and back but is country following an outdated recipe for superpower status?
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Full marks for ingenuity: Students employ high-tech gadgets worthy of a spy movie to pass national exam.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0526 GMT (1326 HKT)
Confucius Institutes seek to promote Chinese language and culture but some have accused them of "cultural imperialism."
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.
ADVERTISEMENT