Three Chinese nationals who falsely presented themselves as journalists when entering the UK have been expelled from the country in the past year, The Telegraph reported citing a senior Whitehall source.
They are believed to be intelligence officers working for Beijing's Ministry of State Security (MSS) who arrived in the country on journalism visas, pretending to be working for Chinese media outlets, with the latter taking centre stage in the purported agents' cover stories and thus deemed as complicit in the plots.
The source confirmed that the three spies each purported to "work for three different" unnamed Chinese media agencies, adding they "all set foot in the UK" in the past 12 months. The Chinese Embassy in London hasn't yet commented on the matter.
Downing Street, meanwhile, is eyeing new legislation meant to tighten currently applicable laws on espionage that is expected to be introduced during the next parliamentary session slated for May.
A number of proposals were also introduced to update a US-like Foreign Agents Registration Act, which would require those working on behalf of foreign governments to register accordingly or face deportation and even jail.
The government is supposedly looking to introduce for discussion a single "mega Bill" on national security that would envisage all the vital issues in this regard, as concerns have of late mounted over suspected Chinese economic espionage and intellectual property theft from British enterprises and educational institutions.
The report that three Beijing operatives posing as journalists have been expelled from Britain comes after Ofcom withdrew the UK license of the Chinese state-owned broadcaster CGTN on Thursday.
The British broadcasting watchdog found the English-language satellite news channel was not under the editorial control of its license holder, in violation of British law, which bars broadcasters from being controlled by political bodies, like political parties, for example.
While CGTN will no longer be permitted to air their programmes in Britain, it may reportedly continue to be entitled to hold the status of a media company. Its employees are said to be permitted to continue to live and work in the UK in line with the conditions of their visas.