US officials have announced that a naturalised American citizen who operates tours for Chinese students and visitors has been charged with spying for China.

Attorney David Anderson said 56-year-old Edward Peng Xuehua is accused of being an illegal foreign agent and delivering classified United States national security information to officials in China.

“The conduct charged in this case alleges a combination of age-old spycraft and modern technology,” Anderson said. “The charges announced today provide a rare glimpse into the secret efforts of the People’s Republic of China to obtain classified national security information from the United States.”

Anderson said Peng is charged with using secret locations to deliver information, delivering payments, and personally carrying to Beijing secure digital cards containing classified information related to US national security.

On six occasions from 2015 to 2018, Peng would secure a hotel room and leave up to US$20,000 according to the criminal complaint. A double agent working for the FBI would then get a key to the room, take the cash and leave a digital card containing information, it said. Peng would then take the card and travel to Beijing to meet Chinese intelligence officers.

Peng was arrested at his home on Friday and was ordered held without bond. He is scheduled to return to court Wednesday. (AP)