How much US debt does China own?

As tensions escalate between the US and China—over trade, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and even TikTok—officials have expressed concern that Beijing could use its stockpile of US Treasury bonds to destabilize the US economy and pressure Washington into backing down. Regular people are worried too: In a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, America’s debt to China was the top concern among respondents in the US, with 89% saying the problem was “very serious.” There’s a lot of fear, confusion, and misapprehension about why the US is in debt to China and what what would happen if China were to call it in.

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