One of China’s most famous movie directors is facing a $26 million fine for having seven children in violation of China’s strict family planning laws, media reports said Thursday.

Zhang Yimou, the maker of “Raise the Red Lantern” and “Red Sorghum”, is being investigated by family planning officials in the eastern city of Wuxi, the website of the People’s Daily newspaper reported.

He has “at least seven children and faces a 160 million yuan fine”, the website of the Communist Party mouthpiece said. Penalties for breaching the policy are calculated according to a violator’s income and the number of children involved.

Many of Zhang’s early films were banned in China but he has since become close to authorities and was picked to direct the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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The state-run Global Times newspaper quoted “online posts” as saying he had “relationships with several women”, but it was unclear in the People’s Daily report where the children were born.

China has implemented a strict one-child policy for many urban residents for over 30 years, although there have been recent suggestions that the policy may be loosened.

Zhang directed some of China’s most successful modern martial arts films, including “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers”.

His most recent work, 2011′s “The Flowers of War”, starred Christian Bale and was a historical drama set during the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.


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