Acclaimed movie director Zhang Yimou has admitted to violating China's one-child policy, after authorities launched an investigation into longstanding rumors that he had fathered up to seven children. Zhang, director of the films Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and The Flowers of War, admitted to violating the rule in a Sina Weibo post published on Sunday, saying he fathered three children with his wife, Chen Ting. As BBC News reports, the director apologized for the violation, though he denied claims that he fathered more children with his wife and other women.

"I would like to express to the public my heartfelt apologies."

"Zhang Yimou and his wife Chen Ting confirm that they have two sons and a daughter," the post read. "For the negative consequences of my actions, I would like to express to the public my heartfelt apologies."

Late last week, Chinese state media reported that officials from the family planning committee in the city of Wuxi had opened an investigation into Zhang and his wife, after trying to track him down for months. In the Weibo post, the director said he and his wife are "willing to accept investigation and punishment in accordance with China's laws and regulations."

Zhang, 62, is among the most celebrated directors in China, and was selected to oversee the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. The Flowers of War, his most recent film, starred Christian Bale and was released in 2011.

Established in 1979, China's one-child rule limits many urban families to one child, while allowing some rural families to have two children if their first is a girl. The policy has come under intense criticism over the years, though Chinese authorities resisted calls for change until last month, when the government announced that it would be relaxing the policy as part of a broad set of domestic reforms. Under the new rule, couples will be able to have two children if one of the parents was an only child.