Amidst rising temperatures over the U.S.-China relationship in a feverish election campaign, the Obama administration this week revoked permission for a Chinese firm to proceed with its acquisition of four wind farms, purportedly after the farms’ proximity to a Navy base used for training missions for drones sparked national security concerns.

In signing an executive order to the effect, President Barack Obama said, “There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that Ralls Corporation, ... the Sany Group (which includes Sany Electric and Sany Heavy Industries), a Chinese company affiliated with Ralls... and, Mr. Dawei Duan and Mr. Jialing Wu, citizens of the People's Republic of China and senior executives of the Sany Group, who together own Ralls; through exercising control of [four wind farms]... , might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the U.S.”

Given this consideration, Mr. Obama added, the transaction resulting in the acquisition of the wind farms and their assets by Mr. Wu or Mr. Duan or their the companies was prohibited. The White House’s order further noted that the unwinding of Chinese investment into this project had to be accomplished “not later than 90 days after the date of this order, unless such date is extended... on such written conditions as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) may require.”

The action against the Ralls Corporation comes scarcely two weeks after both Washington and Beijing lodged a fresh round of complaints at the World Trade Organisation surrounding subsidies and duties for automobile manufacturers, even as the long-standing policy tiff between the U.S. and with China over trade competition appeared to be coloured by election-campaign fervour.

With less than 40 days left for the presidential election, Mr. Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney have traded charges over China’s role as an economic competitor with the U.S. In particular Mr. Romney has argued that Mr. Obama has failed to stand up to Chinese business firms seeking to invest in the U.S. and linked such allegations to the loss of American jobs during the recession.

Mr. Obama, in a similar vein, has suggested that Mr. Romney or various firms that he has been associated with in the past were responsible for major investments into China rather than investing in creating more jobs on U.S. soil.