NRL News

China to Punish Top Filmmaker for “Unapproved” Children

by | Dec 5, 2013


By Wendy Wright

China filmmaker Zhang Yimou

China filmmaker Zhang Yimou

China’s top filmmaker has released an open letter on his blog admitting he and his wife have three children. Why the fuss? Their two sons and daughter were not pre-approved by family planning officials.

Zhang Yimou and his wife “sincerely apologize to the public for the negative impact this event has caused.”

Officials had dispatched teams to track him down after he recently went missing.

Local family planning officials launched an investigation in May when reports surfaced online of Zhang’s multiple children. Jiangsu province, where they live, fines parents with 2 “extra” children up to five to eight times their combined annual income.

Zhang produced the spectacular Beijing Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies. His films “Raise the Red Lantern” and “To Live” (about a man who just wants to live a simple life) have won international acclaim.

In the past few years, pictures of babies forcibly aborted have exposed China’s brutal practices. But this latest news is drawing attention to the draconian practices of officials who use family planning to control populations.

Reaction online within China is revealing the angst over the abusive policy limiting the children people can have. The Wall Street Journal reports some believe Zhan is blameless for wanting children, and others see this as a privilege afforded the rich and powerful.

“In Chinese society, if you have money, you have power. You can have as many kids as you want. Common people have it the toughest,” wrote one person.

“If I had three children,” wrote another, “my children wouldn’t be able to register for a hukou, and my wife and I would probably lose our jobs.”

(Hukou is a household registration system to control where people can live.)

China’s powerful family planning agents punish violators of the one-child policy – which requires pre-approval before conceiving a child – with jail, losing jobs, forced sterilizations and abortions and heavy fines. Sometimes family members are imprisoned and houses bulldozed.

China recently slightly revised its invasive one-child policy to allow adults who are only-children to have a second child. This will have little effect on the impending demographic crash with too few workers, or people to provide for the elderly.

Zhang said he would accept any punishment.

Editor’s note. This appeared at

Categories: China