China’s Holdings of U.S. Treasury Securities Hit 22-Month Low

By Terence P. Jeffrey | May 15, 2019 | 6:45pm EDT
Chinese President Xi Jinping making a toast, April 26, 2019. (Getty Images/Nicolas Asfouri-Pool)

( - Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury securities hit a 22-month low in March, according to data released today by the U.S. Treasury.

As of February, entities in the People’s Republic of China had owned $1,130,900,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities. But in March that dropped to $1,120,500,000,000—a decline of $10,400,000,000.

The last time entities in China owned less than $1,120,500,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities was in May 2017, when Chinese holdings were $1,102,200,000,000.

Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury securities peaked more than five years ago in November 2013 at $1,316,700,000,000. They are now $196,200,000,000—or 14.9 percent--below that peak.

At the end of November 2013, when Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury securities peaked, the total federal debt of the United States was $17,217,151,645,105.86. That consisted of $12,281,126,257,987.08 in debt held by the public (including Treasury securities); and $4,936,025,387,118.78 in intragovernmental holdings that the Treasury had borrowed and spent out of government trust funds.

At that time, Chinese holding of U.S. Treasury securities equaled about 10.7 percent of the U.S. debt held by the public.

At the end of this March, the total federal debt was $22,027,880,157,027.99, which included $16,204,392,002,372.97 debt held by the public and $5,823,488,154,655,02 in intragovernmental holdings.

The $1,120,500,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities that the Chinese owned in March equaled about 6.9 percent of the U.S. debt held by the public.

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

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