BEIJING, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou could face a fine of more than 7 million yuan (1.2 million U.S. dollars) for birth violations, a lawyer said.
In an interview with Xinhua, Zhang and his wife Chen Ting admitted to giving birth to two sons and one daughter in 2001, 2004 and 2006, respectively before they officially got married in 2011. They fell in love with each other in 1999.
Chen said they delayed getting the marriage certificate amid worries that Zhang's identity could be exposed during that process.
Zhang, one of the fifth generation of Chinese filmmakers, made his directorial debut in 1987 with Red Sorghum and has won numerous awards worldwide. He was chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games.
"We had our marriage registered in Wuxi, Jiangsu to help our children get the hukou (household registration) status," she said.
Chen rejected claims that they enjoyed privileges in the late household registrations.
According to rules of the country's 6th population census, any children could get their hukou registered if their parents showed their marriage certificate and household registration record, Chen said.
"If we had privileges, then our children could have their hukou registered much earlier," she said.
China's family planning policy was introduced in the late 1970s to rein in the surging population by limiting most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two, if the first child was a girl. People who have more children than the family planning policy stipulates are usually fined.
A lawyer for the Binhu district health and family planning commission in the city of Wuxi, which investigated the case, revealed to Xinhua Zhang's earnings in 2000, 2003 and 2005 totalling 3.6 million yuan.
Zhang only disputed over part of the earnings, or around 500,000 yuan, in 2005. Chen is a full-time wife.
After calculations based on the combined household income, Zhang could be fined some 7.3 million yuan, said Li Wei, an executive partner of the Fada law office in Beijing.
An official with the Binhu district health and family planning commission said the agency sent a letter to notify Zhang of the fine for the birth violations on Saturday.
The official, who asked not to be named, said the details of the punishment would be unveiled after getting feedbacks from the couple.
"For me and my parents, we wish to have more children as in traditional views, they could bring more happiness," Zhang said. "My father told me prior to his death that he hoped I could have a son to continue the family line and my mother also believed that with more children, they could have more companions."
Zhang said he admitted the wrongdoing and was ready to take any consequences.
Zhang said the birth violations had exerted bad effects in China and even around the world. "As a public figure, I and my wife must assist the sweeping investigations by the family planning authorities and also are willing to make a public apology."
Zhang's story has ignited a firestorm of online public ire for celebrities who have more children than the policy allows.