Acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou has been slapped with a $164 million (£109.3 million) lawsuit from two attorneys after confessing to flouting the country's strict 'one-child' policy.

Government officials launched an investigation into the claims in May (13) after reports suggested The Flowers of War moviemaker had secretly fathered seven kids from two marriages and other relationships - a violation which could land him a fine of $26 million (£17.3 million) if found guilty.

Authorities have yet to reveal their findings or file charges against Zhang, who admitted last Sunday (01Dec13) to having three children with his current wife, Chen Ting, so now lawyers Jia Fangyi and Guo Chengxi - who are not officially connected to the case - have decided to take action themselves.

They claim their lawsuit is part of a protest against wealthy Chinese citizens who willingly break the rules.

Jia tells the Associated Press, "We made the move because the government failed to fulfil its duty in protecting the public interest. We believe that more and more rich people in China are having more children with money, therefore leaving a destructive effect on China's efforts to control population."

The Chinese government introduced the family planning policy in 1979 to prevent population growth spiralling out of control. The legislation has long been opposed by human rights and religious groups.

People found to have violated the restrictive law are subject to pay a "social compensation fee" based on their annual income.