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Economy Suffers As China Divests From US Treasuries

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Economic competition

Tensions between China and the United States have been on the rise for an extended period, driven by economic competition, geopolitical disagreements, and various diplomatic clashes. Recently, China has intensified this complex relationship by divesting a record amount of US treasuries and agency debt bonds, totaling $53.3 billion.

US treasuries

This significant move marks the largest sell-off conducted by China and comes amidst a broader trend of BRICS nations reducing their holdings of US treasuries since 2022. The decision to divest from US treasuries by China is influenced by a range of factors, including economic, strategic, and political considerations.

US assets

A key objective is to lessen China’s reliance on US assets within its foreign reserves, aligning with the broader strategy of BRICS countries to diversify reserves and decrease dependency on the US dollar. Over the past two years, China, along with other BRICS members, has gradually decreased its US treasury holdings to mitigate risks associated with the US economy, particularly its high debt levels.

National debt

With the US national debt reaching a staggering $34.4 trillion in 2023, concerns have surfaced among global investors and policymakers about the implications of this massive debt burden. From a strategic standpoint, China’s decision to sell off US treasuries can be viewed as a direct response to the escalating geopolitical tensions with the United States.

Trump administration

The trade dispute that commenced during the Trump administration, coupled with ongoing pressures from the Biden administration, has compelled China to reevaluate its economic tactics. By divesting from US treasuries and bolstering its gold reserves, China is aiming to insulate its economy against potential US economic sanctions and uphold financial stability.


In recent times, BRICS countries, with China taking the lead, have been accumulating substantial quantities of gold. China’s noticeable gold purchases in 2022, 2023, and 2024, totaling around $550 billion, have positioned it as the largest buyer of gold. This move is perceived as a safeguard against the volatility of the US dollar and a means to ensure economic resilience amid global uncertainties.

22 billion

The trend of divesting from US treasuries extends beyond BRICS nations to include European countries like Belgium, which also liquidated $22 billion worth of US treasuries during the same period. This trend signifies a broader international shift towards reducing reliance on US financial instruments.

Diminishing confidence

The decision by China and other nations to sell off US treasuries carries significant implications for the United States. It serves as a clear indicator of diminishing confidence in the US economy’s management of its mounting debt. This action could potentially result in higher borrowing expenses for the US government and heightened instability in the bond market.

Economic expansion

The decline in demand for US treasuries may lead to an increase in interest rates as the US government endeavors to attract buyers for its debt. Elevated interest rates, in turn, could impede economic expansion and elevate borrowing costs for both businesses and individuals. This scenario could trigger a ripple effect across the US economy, potentially resulting in sluggish job creation and diminished consumer spending.

Strained relations

The divestment also underscores the strained relations between the US and China. Despite attempts by President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping to address the deteriorating ties, underlying economic and strategic tensions persist. The impending US presidential election introduces another element of uncertainty, raising the possibility of heightened US-China trade tensions should former President Donald Trump return to power.

US debt

A pivotal driver behind the divestment is the unchecked US debt and the looming specter of sanctions. The substantial US debt poses a significant worry for global investors, including BRICS nations, who are wary of excessive reliance on the dollar in their economies. Instead, they are transitioning towards local currencies and alternative assets like gold to reduce their exposure.

Biden administration

Many nations are focused on the risks associated with sanctions. The Biden administration has a task force actively probing violations related to technology exports to China. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement, Matthew S. Axelrod, anticipates significant enforcement actions in 2024 stemming from these investigations. These actions could heighten tensions between the US and China, prompting China to further decrease its exposure to US assets.

Stable relationship

The impending US election also plays a pivotal role in China’s decision-making. The prospect of Donald Trump reclaiming the presidency raises apprehensions in China. Trump’s previous term saw a turbulent US-China relationship marked by a trade war, fueled by disputes over COVID-19 origins and Taiwan. In contrast, Biden has maintained a relatively stable relationship with Beijing, albeit implementing tariffs and export controls.

US dollar

The divestment of US treasuries by China and other countries signifies a broader transformation in the global economic arena. Nations are increasingly aiming to lessen their dependence on the US dollar and diversify their reserves to mitigate risks linked to US economic policies and geopolitical tensions.

Gold reserves

China is not the sole participant in this initiative. Other BRICS member countries have also been divesting from US treasuries while augmenting their gold reserves. This coordinated approach symbolizes a movement towards enhanced economic autonomy and a departure from the supremacy of the US dollar in global commerce and finance.

Local currencies

BRICS nations are advocating for a greater reliance on local currencies in their international trade transactions. This transition forms part of a comprehensive strategy to diminish reliance on the US dollar and construct a more resilient economic framework that is less susceptible to external disruptions.

Currency fluctuations

The accumulation of gold by China and fellow BRICS nations underscores the significance of gold as a secure asset. Gold serves as a safeguard against currency fluctuations and economic uncertainties, rendering it an appealing choice for countries seeking to fortify their reserves.

Global economy

The momentous divestment of US treasuries by China carries significant implications for the global economy. Driven by the goal of diversifying reserves and reducing dependency on the US dollar, China’s actions mirror broader movements observed among BRICS nations and other states aiming for heightened economic autonomy. This decision further accentuates the strained relations between the US and China, exacerbated by geopolitical tensions and the approaching US presidential election.

Escalating debt

As China and various nations continue to shed US treasuries in favor of accumulating gold and other assets, the international economic landscape is undergoing a profound metamorphosis. This shift towards embracing local currencies and alternative investments emphasizes the imperative for the US to confront its escalating debt and reevaluate economic policies to uphold stability in an increasingly interconnected global milieu.

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