China's holdings of US Treasury debt sparks concern, but less than you may think : The Indicator from Planet Money China owns a LOT of Benjamins, greenbacks, whatever you like to call it, in the form of US treasury bonds. But it's been cutting back on some of those securities recently. So what would happen if Beijing decides to sell off all its holding of American debt, and is that the plan?

China's slice of the US debt pie

China's slice of the US debt pie

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JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images
People walk past the Huarong Asset Management building in the financial district in Beijing  (Photo by JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images)
JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images

Get ready for this statistic – China owns 981 billion dollars in U.S debt. That means we owe China nearly a trillion dollars! But wait, let us explain.

While this number may seem large, the total amount of U.S Treasuries outstanding is more than 30 trillion dollars. And, China isn't even the largest foreign holder of American debt. Of late though, China has been cutting back on US treasuries. So what would happen if Beijing decides to sell off all their holdings one day? What impact would that move have on the U.S economy and should we be worried?

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