China continues to sell U.S. Treasury bonds amid Sino-U.S. trade truce uncertainty.

Chanel Holden

2019-08-05 13:30:00 Mon ET

China continues to sell U.S. Treasury bonds amid Sino-U.S. trade truce uncertainty. In mid-2019, China reduces its U.S. Treasury bond positions by $20.5 billion to $1.12 trillion. These Treasury bond positions reach their lowest level or 5% of U.S. government debt in 2017-2019 amid Sino-American trade conflict and economic policy uncertainty. The Chinese Xi administration may use its current status as the top Treasury debtholder as special leverage in the next round of trade negotiations. In response, the Chinese renminbi hovers in the broad range of 6.69x-6.97x per U.S. dollar during the recent time frame. Some investment bankers speculate that as the largest foreign owner of U.S. government bonds, China may implement the nuclear option by offloading lots of Treasury bonds to trigger interest rate hikes in America. These interest rate hikes may inadvertently cause collateral damage to the U.S. economy.

However, Lowy Institute senior fellow Richard McGregor offers the fresh economic insight that China cannot easily manipulate its current U.S. Treasury bond portfolio with no negative impact on the Chinese currency and current account deficit. U.S. trade envoy Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expect to meet the Chinese hardliners for bilateral trade discussions in Shanghai from late-July to mid-August 2019.

 


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