Zhang Yimou Kids Mystery Deepens as Newspaper Runs Mock 'Wanted' Poster
The speculation surrounding the whereabouts of Chinese director Zhang Yimou and his alleged breach of the country's family planning rules continue to make headlines in China.
Media and industry observers have been discussing reports that he sired seven kids -- in breach of China's long-established One Child Policy, which is being loosened. Zhang has avoided stepping into the spotlight amid recent news that Chinese population planners seek to track him down about reports that he violated the policy.
Nanjing-based daily newspaper Oriental Guardian even ran a fake "Wanted" poster for the director.
The front-page poster mocked an increasingly bizarre tale featuring the Raise The Red Lantern director, who is probably China's best-known director overseas. The story has provoked a media frenzy.
The One Child Policy is being somewhat loosened under a raft of newly unveiled reforms, allowing for a second kid if one partner is an only child, but having seven children would be out of line. If he is found to have broken the law, the director could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Chen Ting, Zhang's current wife, allegedly has had three children with Zhang.
Earlier this week, Chen Jian, a man claiming to be Zhang's brother-in-law and a spokesman for the family, posted on the Sina Weibo social media site denying that the director breached the One Child Policy.
He demanded an apology from Southern Entertainment Weekly magazine for accusing Zhang of fathering as many as seven children from his two marriages and from relationships with other women.
However, the family mystery has since deepened further. Zhang's studio has come out to say that Chen Jian was not really Zhang's brother-in-law. His social media post was taken down.
Chen has responded saying that he was the brother of Zhang's wife Chen Ting and unless the marriage certificate was not real, he was indeed the director's brother-in-law.
"I am a fake relative? Look, I have done my best and everybody is cursing me," he wrote in another post, addressing Zhang. "The one who should be cursed is you, and I am taking the flak for you. You need to clarify the whole thing between you and Chen Ting and the children to the media."
Media reports that Zhang has fathered seven children with four different women spread widely in May, which triggered an investigation by the Health and Family Planning Commission of Wuxi in the eastern province of Jiangsu, where Zhang's wife is from.
The officials sent a team to Beijing looking for him, but failed to locate the Red Sorghum director, prompting some online speculation that they are going easy on him because of his reputation.
Zhang is currently shooting his latest movie, Return, in Beijing and Tianjin with Gong Li and Chen Daoming.