China fined acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou 7.5 million yuan ($1.24 million) on Thursday for having three children in violation of its country’s strict one-child policy.
The family planning agency in the eastern city of Wuxi – where Zhang’s wife, Chen Ting, is from – told Zhang last month he would be fined, but did not say how much. Zhang appealed.
Online reports surfaced last year that Zhang, who dazzled the world in 2008 with his Beijing Olympic ceremonies, had at least seven children and could be liable for a 160 million yuan ($26.3 million) fine, Xinhua news agency said. Those reports sparked a hunt for Zhang. The agency said last November they were unable to locate Zhang.
In December, Zhang apologised for having three children and said he would accept any punishment.
In a statement posted on the microblog account of the Binhu district’s government in Wuxi, the family planning authorities said they would give Zhang 30 days to pay up.
The authorities said their calculation of the fine was based on the combined income of Zhang and Chen, which totalled 3.6 million yuan in the three years that his children were born.
Zhang, 61, once the bad boy of Chinese cinema whose movies were banned at home but popular overseas, has since become a darling of the Communist Party, despite long being a subject of tabloid gossip for alleged trysts with his actresses.
The government said in November that it would allow couples to have a second child if one of the parents was an only child. It was the most significant relaxation of its population control regime in nearly three decades.