Obama administration officials have reportedly warned China against masterminding a covert operation in the US which involves Chinese agents pressuring expatriates to return home.

In what has been codenamed "Operation Fox Hunt", China's clandestine operatives are attempting to force high-profile Chinese nationals, mostly fugitives, to leave the US and return home.

According to the New York Times, which cited unnamed American officials, the operation is part of a global campaign launched by the Chinese government. The report went on to say the US State Department had also issued a warning against the agents' activities.

The Beijing-nominated undercover operatives are also working on recovering the assets reportedly embezzled by the fugitives through corruption. The US action is widely seen as a warning to the Chinese government that Washington is aware of the clandestine activities rather than as a retaliatory measure.

Some of the pressure tactics used against the expatriates includes threat that their relatives at home could come to harm.

Operation Fox Hunt is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's wider pledge to crack down on corruption, which has found a strong resonance among the public.

Under the clandestine programme, which is operated by China's Ministry of Public Security, more than 930 suspects from across the world have been repatriated to China in one year, the Times reported.

Neither the Chinese ministries nor the US departments have formally commented on the allegations. The latest assertions are, nonetheless, likely to have an effect on Xi's upcoming to visit to Washington in September.