Beijing, May 10 (IANS/EFE) Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, famous for films such as “The Red Lantern”, has become the target for much criticism after several media outlets accused him of flouting Beijing’s one-child policy by fathering seven kids.
The South China Morning Post reported Thursday that Zhang, 61, could be fined more than $26 million if the accusations – which first appeared in the Chongqing Evening News – are confirmed.
That newspaper said Zhang during the past decade had three children with actress Chen Ting before the couple wed secretly in 2011, and he had another offspring with his earlier wife, Xiao Hua, and three more with two women whose names were not made public.
The news spread rapidly on the Chinese social networks.
Many online commenters said that this and other similar rumours surrounding celebrities, millionaires and political leaders indicate that the one-child policy is only enforced on the lower and middle classes.
Zhang, who won awards in the 1980s and ’90s in Europe for his social criticism films, in this century has become one of China’s most commercial directors, and he was tasked with designing the acclaimed opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
His rise to fame and fortune has been accompanied by growing criticism inside China, where many denounce him as a sell-out, as well as abroad, where some critics accuse him of tailoring his films to Beijing’s political agenda.
The one-child policy was begun in the late 1970s to bring China’s overpopulation under control and, according to government figures, it has managed to reduce annual demographic growth from 1.35 million new citizens per year in 1980 to 630,000 today.
In recent years, however, there have been calls to relax the policy.