Earlier this month, well-known filmmaker Zhang Yimou (張藝謀) came under fire for violating China’s One-Child Policy. In a recent interview, he and his wife, Chen Ting (陳婷) confirmed their wrongdoing and offered a public apology. It is estimated that Zhang will face fines of more than 7 million RMB.
Zhang Yimou Thought More Children Would Equal More Happiness
“The brand that I have so painstakingly developed with my works has been destroyed in one day,” said Zhang. “As public figures, Chen Ting and I must cooperate with the One-Child Policy Department’s comprehensive investigation, and we are also willing to publicly apologize to society.”
According to Zhang, his children’s teachers never knew the identity of their students’ father. Moreover, when the family went out together, Zhang would stay at least 200 meters away from his children. “Because of my mistake, there has been a big influence on my children’s childhood,” he said.
When asked why he and his wife breached the policy, Zhang replied, “In my parents’ and my traditional way of thinking, we hoped to have more children and thus more happiness. Before his death, my father implored me to have a son who could carry on the family name, and my mother thought it would be better to have more children so they could have companions.”
However, Zhang admitted his violation was illegal, even if he may have had good intentions: “I must admit that I was wrong and I assume all consequences.”
Chen Ting Offers Her Side of the Story
Speaking up for the first time since the investigation began, Chen Ting explained that she and Zhang did not apply for a marriage certificate, because they feared that their situation would be discovered by the media. Their three children, who were born in 2001, 2004, and 2006, were all born out of wedlock, and did not have registered residences until 2011.
“Our entire family suffered as a result [of the children’s unregistered status],” said Chen, who denied that she and Zhang had outwitted the policy due to preferential treatment. She claimed that she had slipped under the One-Child Policy’s radar by going to a foreign hospital in Beijing for her prenatal examination and then switching to the international medical division of a public Beijing hospital in order to give birth. Neither hospital asked for a birth permit.
Chen also denied the rumors that the couple has a fourth child, saying that a girl who was photographed with them during a family outing was the daughter of their neighbor, businesswoman Wang Jianying (王建英). “That day, we took [the daughter] out with us and just happened to be followed by paparazzi, which led to a misunderstanding with the media,” explained Chen.
When approached by reporters, Wang Jianying confirmed that the girl, whose name is Wang Mouyu (王某雨), is her daughter, and said that she was born in 2006, the same year as Zhang Yimou’s daughter.
Estimated Seven Million RMB Fine for Social Compensation
According to the “Family Planning Regulations for Jiangsu Province” drawn up in 1997, a couple who violates the One-Child Policy will be fined a total of three times the average salary of the previous year. Beginning in 2002, the regulations were amended to state that a second child born out of wedlock will incur a fine of five to eight times the average salary of the previous year. Parents whose income is more than twice the average will face additional fees.
According to reports, Zhang’s income in 2000 was 2,760 RMB, less than the Wuxi average of 8,603 RMB. In 2003 and 2005, however, he ballooned up to 1.06 million RMB and 2.51 million RMB respectively, far surpassing the 11,647 RMB and 16,005 RMB averages. Zhang has confirmed these numbers, though there is some dispute regarding a 500,000-RMB sum from 2005.
In response to skepticism about his reported income, especially the low amount in 2000, Zhang revealed that he did not receive payment for directing House of Flying Daggers <十面埋伏>, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles <千里走单骑>, and Curse of the Golden Flower <滿城盡帶黃金甲> until 2010. Moreover, he received no remuneration for Happy Times <幸福時光>, sine the two investors had a falling out after the film tanked at the box office.
Using the previous numbers, Beijing law firm associate Li Wei (李維) calculated that Zhang will have to fork over more than 7 million RMB in social compensation fees, which will be the largest fine in this category in history.
This article is written by Joanna for JayneStars.com.