Chinese regulators conducted an off-site investigation into a Japanese cosmetics maker's production processes and halted imports of the firm's products, citing compliance concerns, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.

It is rare for Chinese authorities to directly target an overseas manufacturing base and the move is believed to be part of Beijing's efforts to increase scrutiny of foreign businesses that sell products in China.

The probe — which covered a hair-coloring product plant in Aichi Prefecture run by Nagoya-based Hoyu — was conducted online, though it is unclear exactly how the regulators went about their inquiries.