As of November 2012, China owned $1.17 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities, according to U.S. Department of Treasury and Federal Reserve Board calculations published Jan. 16.
Concerned about the unrestrained growth in U.S. debt under the Obama administration, China has reduced by 97 percent its holdings in short-term U.S. Treasury bills. China’s holding of $573.7 billion in August 2008, prior to the massive bank bailouts and stimulus programs triggered by the collapse in the U.S. mortgage market, dwindled to $5.96 billion by March 2011.
Treasury bills are short-term debt that matures in one year or less, sold to finance U.S. debt. Holdings of Treasury bills are included in the $1.17 trillion of total Treasury securities owned by China as of November 2012.
In addition to a national debt in excess of $16 trillion, the U.S. government in 2010 faced over $70 trillion in unfunded obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits scheduled to be paid retiring baby boomer retirees in the coming decades, with unfunded obligations showing no sign of being reduced with Congress at a deadlock over reducing federal government spending.