Zhang YimouMost of us are well aware of China’s one-child rule, the nationwide policy to prevent overpopulation by limiting families to producing a single offspring.  Intentionally or not, Zhang Yimou, the acclaimed director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers, has brought notoriety to the population-controlling rule by having as many as 7 children with 4 different women. If these reports are to be believed, Zhang could find himself the center point in a massive controversy.


China’s one-child policy has roots that date back to the first half of the 1900s. While under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the people of China were encouraged to multiply as much as they desired to overcome infant high mortality rates and low life expectancies of the time. Mao also believed that the higher the population, the stronger his country would be. As a result, China’s population increased to nearly a billion in the 1970s. After the exponential population increase, the Chinese government forged the one-child rule, and began enforcing it later in the same decade.


While there are exceptions to China’s policy on reproduction, generally it will only allow a second child before you are cut off from all breeding privileges. Zhang allegedly has had 3 children with his current wife, Chen Ting, one child with his first wife, Xiao Hua, and 3 more from two unidentified women. Though an offense like violating the one-child law is hardly punishable by imprisonment, it is typical enforced with a heavy fine and loss of work-related benefits. If the reports of Zhang’s reproductive habits prove true, he could be facing a fine as big as 160 million yuan, or 26 million in U.S. dollars.


Since news of the popular director’s extended family hit China, its people have been hitting up social media to point out how a rich and famous individual could so blatantly undermine a law that applies to every Chinese citizen. Weibo is on fire with users who are openly irate that someone with fame and fortune could easily maneuver around China’s laws and go unpunished. Assuming Zhang is the father of 7 children and suffers no legal consequences for his unlawful multiplication, it would hardly be the first time a public figure to be granted amnesty in the midst of controversy. If you disagree, look up anything Lindsay Lohan has done in the past 10 years.