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Chinese director fined US$1.2m fine for violating family planning policy

Publication Date : 10-01-2014


Though the fine of 7.48 million yuan (US$1.2 million) handed down to movie director Zhang Yimou and his wife was the biggest ever levied on a couple for violating the family planning policy, people still disagree whether the amount is too much or too little.

Zhang and his wife Chen Ting admitted in an open letter on December 1 that they had two sons and one daughter before they were married in 2011.

The family planning commission fined the couple 71,928 yuan for having the first son without obtaining a birth service card. They were also fined more than 2.2 million yuan for the second son and more than 5.19 million yuan for the daughter.

The fine was based on the combined annual household income of the year prior to each of the children's year of birth. The fine was calculated according to the law, said the commission, which sent nine teams to several provinces to investigate Zhang's earnings.

According to the family planning commission in Wuxi - where Zhang's wife is from - Zhang's earnings were 2,760 yuan in 2000, 1,062,760 yuan in 2003 and 2,518,590 yuan in 2005. His wife made no income in those years.

Though Zhang and Chen have given written commitment to the authenticity of the earnings, people still expressed doubts on the Internet.

"It's incredible that Zhang only made 230 yuan a month in 2000," said Miao Chang, a Wuxi resident. "Maybe that's the lowest salary in China."

However, during an interview with Chinese media Zhang said that a movie director's earnings are not fixed.

"To me, I often spend more than one year researching a film script. During that period I also ask many people to write and discuss the script, and sometimes I make no money but spent."

He said he was willing to publicise all the contracts, fund transfers and income tax certificates to prove his earnings.

The fine must be paid in 30 days, or additional fines will be levied for the delay.

Many people also said on the Internet that it is unfair for Zhang to pay a much higher fine than ordinary people.

According to a survey by, one of China's most popular online platforms, about 30 percent of respondents said that Zhang should not be fined according to his high earnings.

Tang Jun, a researcher specialising in social policies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the levying of family planning fines will only exist in "a certain historical period", and will be cancelled when the country adjusts its population policies.

"It's important that the governments of different administrative levels make clear to the public how the fines are used," Tang said.

US$1=6.1 yuan



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