China’s External Debt Exceeds USD$2.5 Trillion


The latest official data indicates that China’s external debt levels breached the USD$2.5 trillion yuan threshold in the first half of 2021.

China’s national external debt balance (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) was 16.6033 trillion yuan (approx. USD$2.5266 trillion) as of the end March 2021, according to data released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) on 25 June.

Medium and long-term external debt was 7.4118 trillion yuan (approx. $1.1279 trillion), comprising 45% of China’s total external debt, while short-term external debt was 9.1915 trillion yuan (approx. $1.3987 trillion), for a 55% share.

The broadly defined government external debt balance was 2.6596 trillion yuan ($404.7 billion), accounting for 16% of the total, while the central bank external debt balance was 242.9 billion yuan ($37 billion), for a 2% share.

The external debt balance of Chinese banks was 7.6743 trillion yuan (approx. $1.1678 trillion), for a 46% share, while external debt categorised as “other” (including direct investment and inter-company loans) was 6.0265 trillion yuan ($917.1 billion), for a 36% share.

When broken down in terms of instruments, China’s external debt balance was as follows:

  • The loan balance: 2.98 trillion yuan ($453.5 billion), for an 18% share.
  • The trade loan and prepayment balance: 2.4255 trillion yuan ($369.1 billion), for a 15% share.
  • The money and deposit balance: 3.7245 trillion yuan ($566.8 billion), for a 22.5% share.
  • The bond securities balance: 5.0983 trillion yuan ($775.8 billion,) for a 31% share.
  • Special drawing rights (SDR) allocations: 65.1 billion yuan ($9.9 billion), for a 0.5% share.
  • Inter-company loan debt balance: 1.8796 trillion yuan ($286 billion), for an 11% share.
  • Other liabilities: 430.3 billion yuan ($65.5 billion), for a 2% share.

When broken down by currency, the renminbi external debt balance was 7.1305 trillion yuan ($1.0851 trillion), for a 43% share, while the foreign currency external debt balance (including SDR allocations) was 9.4728 trillion yuan ($1.4415 trillion), accounting for 57%.



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