Allegations Against Zhang Yimou Spark Controversy

A public debate has emerged in recent years over the one-child policy, as high-profile cases of forced abortions and other abuses have led to public protests. Author Ma Jian recently wrote about the draconian enforcement tactics and the social impact of the policy. New revelations that famed movie director Zhang Yimou may have fathered as many as seven children have put the issue back in the spotlight, as many in China speak out against the unequal treatment for the privileged in society. From the Wall Street Journal blog:

An official with the Jiangsu provincial family planning commission confirmed that Mr. Zhang was under investigation and said it was ongoing but gave no other details. “We don’t know yet how we will deal with it, if it turns out to be true,” said the official, who gave only his surname, Li.


News of the investigation comes at awkward time for the China’s family planning authorities. Beijing officially continues to defend the one-child policy, saying it has prevented 400 million births and helped lift the country out of poverty. But public anger over forced late-term abortions, anxiety over gender imbalances and shifting demographics have prompted increasing calls for the policy to be scrapped, or at least relaxed.

Shifting attitudes toward the one-child rule were evident online Thursday, as a number of Internet users rushed to defend Mr. Zhang.

“I applaud Zhang Yimou for having more than one child,” wrote one user of the Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging service. “Having children is a right bestowed on man by Heaven.” [Source]

As the Guardian reports, anger has centered around Zhang’s treatment for breaking the law as compared to the that of common citizens:

Disparity in the treatment of those who break the laws has fuelled public anger about inequality.

“It is just a policy for limiting the poor’s right to give birth,” one angry microblogger wrote in response to the news about Zhang.

Another asked: “Why doesn’t China have the world’s respect? Look at the rich and officials with flocks of wives and mistresses … If ordinary people had more children they would be punished or fined to death. He is fine.

“Zhang’s quality is worse than ordinary people. An unfair society can never receive respect.” [Source]

AP has more on the Internet reaction to the news:

Users of China’s lively social media lined up to criticize Zhang and drew distinctions between how the elite and ordinary people are treated.

“However many children a person has is their basic right, but in a twisted society, basic rights have become a privilege,” Beijing resident Liu Weiling, who works for a media company, wrote on Sina Weibo.

“Why is China unable to win the world’s respect?” asked author Christopher Jing. “Rich people with groups of mistresses, old celebrities changing wives, Zhang Yimou getting so many privileges. Four women and seven kids, if this was an ordinary person they would have killed you or fined you an unreasonable amount of money, but he is fine … he is no better than ordinary people, such an unfair world will never gain respect.” [Source]

Read more about the one-child policy and about Zhang Yimou via CDT.


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