US President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that will prohibit American investors from investing in Chinese companies that support China’s military, a move that can escalate heightened tensions between the two countries. National Security Advisor Robert C O’Brien in an official statement said that order is to “protect American investors from unintentionally providing capital” to enhance the intelligence services of the Chinese government and People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order to protect American investors from funding Communist Chinese military companies, including those designated by the Department of Defense in June and August of 2020.” The order goes into effect from January 11.

“The President’s action serves to protect American investors from unintentionally providing capital that goes to enhancing the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army and People’s Republic of China intelligence services, which routinely target American citizens and businesses through cyber operations, and directly threaten the critical infrastructure, economy, and military of America and its allies and partners around the world,” O’Brien said.

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi like student eager to impress but lacks aptitude: Obama in memoir

Also Read: Strategic partnership with ASEAN has been core of India’s Act East Policy: PM Modi

The NSA said since many of these companies are publicly traded on stock exchanges around the world, and individual investors in the United States can unknowingly provide funds to them through passive institutional investment vehicles such as mutual funds and retirement plans. “President Trump has no higher priority than the security of the American people,” O’Brien added.

According to an earlier report by South China Morning Post, experts and former officials say they fear a growing risk that he could make disruptive moves to double down on priorities and tie his successor’s hands in his final months in the White House.

Experts added that China could be a particular target, given Trump’s repeated efforts to blame Beijing for the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic conditions of the United States, says Mark Magnier in the South China Morning Post. “Trump has promised to punish China for COVID-19, so the question is, what does that mean,” said Jeff Moon, principal at China Moon Strategies and former National Security Council official.

Beyond taking the potentially explosive step of labelling China guilty of genocide for the mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Trump could attempt to block visas for more Communist party officials, or make trouble by trying to order US athletes to skip the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Other Trump options may include subjecting more Chinese state-owned companies to sanctions, expanding restrictions on “dual-use” civilian-military exports, banning more Chinese apps after its TikTok and WeChat campaigns and blocking all semiconductor sales to Huawei Technologies beyond those for 5G networks.

Also Read: China on US’s warning over Hong Kong: Legislation Council purely an internal affair, no country should intervene