Published on May 26, 2015
China has a dirty little secret they don’t want anyone to know about. It’s this: China owes the United States more money than we owe them. But for political reasons, both governments are ignoring the 100 ton elephant in the room–or shall we say dragon in the room? Most people are aware of China recently surpassing the United States as the world’s largest economy, owning a major portion of the US national debt, and the trade surplus it enjoys with America. But what most people don’t know is China owes Americans hundreds of billions of dollars in bond payments! Some brief history: It was American citizens and the US government who made possible China’s recent rise to power with its growing economic and military influence, by buying Chinese government-issued bonds to develop China’s infrastructure. Between 1911 and 1942 China issued bonds which were purchased by the U.S. Government and many other governments, U.S. and foreign banks and to people around the world including U.S. citizens. The Chinese bonds were marketed competitively with other sovereign debt instruments of the day by Wall Street ﬁrms. They were trusted investments and promoted by many mainstream agencies and newspapers including the old grey lady, the New York Times, then and still the national newspaper of record for the United States. China properly serviced the debt payments associated with these bonds until it became the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 and decided to intentionally default on the loans. This was an illegal act. Under international law, the money China owes on its defaulted American bonds is considered Sovereign debt, and Sovereign debt has no statute of limitations. Even worse than China’s violation of the international laws behind sovereign debt, China appears to only pay off its debts for something in return. In 1987, it paid off the same bonds it owes to the US, to the citizens and government of the United Kingdom, which occurred as Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule. So, clearly, China has acknowledged it owes the money on its bonds and established a precedent by paying the United Kingdom. But despite its documented record of defaulting on loans, China has used its new political and economic muscle to compete in the international development banking industry. In early 2015, China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the AIIB, which is designed to directly challenge and circumvent the leadership of the US and Japan over both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Given these facts, as well as the legal precedent China itself created when it selectively paid off Britain, in tandem with its solid economic world position, there is no excuse for China to refuse its ﬁscal responsibility to the government of the United States as well as to the thousands of individual citizens who purchased those bonds and are still holding them–or in many cases, their children or grandchildren are holding them. There is currently no US government entity organized to accomplish the task of settling this enormous debt with China, yet there is a private sector American organization planning to accomplish this mission with the assistance of the US government. Since 2001, the American Bondholders Foundation has legally represented the majority of American bondholders, and is working closely with members of Congress to solve this problem. This potential settlement could be the greatest American stimulus package ever created and yet Americans would be simply settling an outstanding, overdue debt with China. As America faces the biggest Treasury debt numbers in world history, deadbeat China is now incredulously planning on issuing new international bonds to help their slowing economy. Since it will be against the American and International Laws to buy any bonds from China until all previous bond debts are settled, one wonders if now is the time for Congress and our President to stop China’s goal of getting away with the crime of the century–a second century in a row, racking up more debt heaped upon their last biggest theft in history.