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Why China's US debt holdings Are Its 'Nuclear Option' In Trump's Trade War

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China has a big trump card in the ongoing trade war against the United States — selling off its massive holdings of U.S government debt. Here's why the so-called 'nuclear option' could hurt China as much as the United States. » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic About CNBC: From 'Wall Street' to 'Main Street' to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: https://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC #CNBC Why China's US debt holdings Are Its 'Nuclear Option' In Trump's Trade War
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Text Comments (2287)
Steven Irvine (5 days ago)
U.S will have to start making more products better quality more jobs,whats the problem?
fredocorleone (14 days ago)
No, the biggest holders of U.S. debt/treasuries are people in the U.S. China only has about 4% of it. False info repeated enough, somehow becomes "fact". CNBC does nothing to stop this false info being repeated constantly on their channel. Japan owns most all of its debt. Japan finances their future for their society in a healthy way. The U.S. should strive to hold most all of its debt and to receive these future debt payments and not bleed money in the future as interest payments to other nations.
AsiA I. (17 days ago)
IndiA supports you china timefor white genocidE' in stolen America stolen kanata
AsiA I. (17 days ago)
IndiA supports you china time for whites to be genocideD'' in stolen America stolen kanata
AsiA I. (17 days ago)
IndiA supports you china time for whites to be genocided in stolen America stolen kanata
Andy Wong (25 days ago)
but US has a nuclear weapon too, ten of thousands of the high level Chinese officers have their children and corruption wealth hiden in US. Wowp, maybe i should not tell...
Michael Lam (25 days ago)
Very easy to see..The Jewish hand involved in all of this. A strong USA which is a lap dog to Israel is most important. The money God in the synagogues must be obeyed.
Ronald (28 days ago)
Reagan didn't reduce tariffs on specific countries and specific products. So why is Trump only raising tariffs on specific countries and specific products? If you want to reverse the damage from Reagan's ""free trade" policy you need to raise tariffs on all countries, not just a few select countries. And all products that are in direct competition with US products. It will make things more expensive in the USA, but also bring a lot of manufacturing back to the USA.
Ronald (28 days ago)
Notice I said manufacturing instead of jobs. Most manufacturing jobs were lost because of robots and automation. So most of those jobs aren't coming back even if manufacturing does come back..
Modern Modern (29 days ago)
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Ballsy Ballsyone (1 month ago)
Typical Rockefeller owned propaganda media outlet. China holds less than 3 Trillion in Washington debt. It's a drop in the bucket. You guys have been played like a violin since the Maestro decided to take over. You'll haven't won a SINGLE POINT!!!
TechMagnet (1 month ago)
Just found this channel, pretty amazing!
Alex Ander (1 month ago)
One thing you didn't address was that China's economy is nearly self-sustainable. They have enough over-all people of both super-rich and super-poor to essentially maintain themselves on a national scale regardless of world economical issues...
Donald Kasper (1 month ago)
We don't have to allow China to sell its US bonds. Also, we can just invalidate the bonds, defaulting on them.
Donald Kasper (1 month ago)
@JosePerez1220 US has defaulted on debts before. We own the ratings agencies and can freeze them. We don't have to play nice.
JosePerez1220 (1 month ago)
That's probably the worst idea I've seen. You clearly don't know how bonds work and you don't understand the market. 1. You can't just prohibit the sale of a debt security. This is the biggest giveaway that you don't know what you're talking about. 2. You can't just go with a sovereign default without insane repercussions. We're talking immediate market collapse, literal blood in the streets, and immediate possibility of a world war. You tossing in these ideas is like a car mechanic giving suggestions to a heart surgeon during a quadruple bypass
Ashura (1 month ago)
When it come to US 1.2 trillion dollars bound to China it’s a double edge sword. Yes that will wreak havoc on America’s economy but if China does do that its a retaliation against her self. They need us more than we need them. Remember that!
Zheng Zhang (1 month ago)
You just said China has a nuclear option. Yet they don't have a lot wiggle room? Then what is nuclear option? Btw it's not China's national interest to hold US debt. US debt is not a necessity for China. They can sell as they want.
jonathan young (1 month ago)
China holds a lot of US treasuries. If it want to lower the amount ; China can swap US treasuries with other neutral countries for those countries assets like businesses and properties. Those countries can in turn use to buy American properties and businesses that are banned from China's ownership.. Money is money and once it changes hand for legitimate transaction; it can freely be used for any legitimate transaction. That is why the U.S. Dollar is an international means of exchange.
Jimmy Chopsticks (1 month ago)
They just dumped 20 billion. Now what?
David Smith (1 month ago)
looks like China wants to commit suicide
BANDO belt Pimp (1 month ago)
Trump is the maker of chaos in the world, the most arrogant and swaggerer in the world, and no one in the world likes your Trump, only you like it.
Larry Sherk (1 month ago)
Since when do Trump and Pelosi have to answer to the American people?? We are palpably slaves to our corporatist masters, all under the supervision of the Deep State. I grant that China and The United States have different political systems, but it's foolish to suggest that the Chinese are less accountable to their people than the United States is, especially with the United States streaking its way into modern Orwellian fascism. One thing the United States might consider is breaking our consumerist insanity. The pending economic collapse might do that for us.
Ryan (1 month ago)
"This isn't likely to happen" lol https://www.ft.com/content/0933cdfa-7766-11e9-be7d-6d846537acab
Beta Alpha (1 month ago)
First thing first, why is China buying up US debt in the first place? For Charity reason? How about US 'Nuclear option' of freezing all China overseas acc? China just can't win this trade world and reason is simply that they had more things to hide..and therefore more to lose.
Scott (1 month ago)
China, sell that debt! Do me the favor! Please! The US is the largest oil producing country in the world! If you sold US debt the dollar would go down, oil would go up. This would make investment in oil production and exploration more profitable and cheaper. It would put oil drillers in the US back to work drilling more well producing even more oil! Despite what you hear about the loss of US manufacturing jobs in the media US manufacturing output is at an all time high! That means that more stuff (dollar wise) is made in the US than at any time in history! That is huge! We make a lot of stuff and we don't need a lot of workers to do it. The US manufacturing employment percentage is 10.5% while Chain's is 16.9%. The US only employes 16.3 million worker with an output of $1.86 trillion while China needs 128.8 million workers to produce only $2.01 trillion in goods. American workers are far more productive than the Chinese! I got my facts from the Brookings institute 2015#s. Keep in mind that these numbers are from 2015 and the US economy has been on a break neck pace since then and it looks like China is loosing this trade war.
Speedy Singh (1 month ago)
Your third option....so called Nuclear button option.....sell all its Holdings of US TReasury Bond, Chinese have about 1.1 trillion $ worth of that.......but who is going to buy it! Except the American Govt itself, and it will make sure they sell it at a Distress rates. So in one go Americans give the Chinese a Haircut....and solve their own debt Problem!!
Leo (1 month ago)
When CHINA's US debt is going to be Zero. Then China blocks exporting rate earth metals to America. It means Real War is coming soon.
Donald Kasper (1 month ago)
US should default on China debt. US should block China from SWIFT, bankrupting its banks. US should delcare Taiwan and Hong Kong free and independent countries. US should blockade all Chinese goods. Then US buys Chinese rare earths through third parties.
95 yolles (1 month ago)
Don’t worry, China will lose. Trump always carry a letter of tax reminder to show media the world his achievements over Canada,Korea, Mexico.
secret (1 month ago)
yah let smoke more pots yayayy more pots
Citra (1 month ago)
Criminals trader mr T....
great sky (1 month ago)
Cooperation instead of trade war, win-win is much better.
Gordon Jang (1 month ago)
Let’s look at a contrarian approach. In stead of selling, if China were to BUY more US dollars, it would drive up the US interest rate, creating inflation. With prices of goods already going up as a result of the trade war, this would be the ULTRA Nuclear option. I love being an arm chair quarterback. Lol
Tom Meyers (1 month ago)
Pay up.... "Pffftttt" You pay now Yankee dog....."Pfffftttt"
Ethan olo (1 month ago)
OK, it can be put in this way, your trading partner own you trillions and pay you good interest each year. now, Crazy uncle is in charge, he don't want trade with you anymore because he believe his company is losing too much money from trading with you. he accuse you cheating, stealing and whatsoever so he can have his new trade terms. Question is, are you going to sell all the debt to make the crazy uncle looks bad ?
Albert Correia (1 month ago)
For crying out loud, stop being ignorant. 1+trillion is nothing when you compare it to the national gnp, China is a thief and we have to put a stop to it.
sfat fuxia (1 month ago)
Fake News!
Asif Ifas (1 month ago)
Just done it, Chinas just do it.
Johnny C (1 month ago)
america just talks because it needs an enemy so poliiticans can keep their jobs, but they all benefit from cheap goods from china and inflating the value of the USD.
SgtShella (1 month ago)
why i keep relate nuclear option with fallout 4?? i must play too much of it
Patrick Lawrence (1 month ago)
I knew that Huawei blunder was just the tip of the iceberg.
Udayakumar T.R (1 month ago)
China does not need a propaganda machinery in USA as long as traitors run Fake media here.
Lindsay Zeng (1 month ago)
Tell me CNBC is not bias. Haven’t heard anything good about China
6packter (1 month ago)
Usa never treats anyone fairly
Kidding Yo (1 month ago)
If this man can't read or speak Chinese, I don't think he knows China enough. I don't trust this guy.
Aristeidis Lykas (1 month ago)
Trump has to answer to the american people? No, Trump has to answer to the american elites.
Geo ZeroOne (1 month ago)
China is a Police State. Speak your mind and you get killed. Remember Tiananmen Square. No free internet or free political discussions in China. Dictatorship of the Communist Party elite now become the New Running Dogs of Imperialism.
M Sk (1 month ago)
Just a North Korean passing by.
Ingrid Bullard (1 month ago)
Robin Swamidasan (1 month ago)
A very superficial commentary. It doesn't add anything to someone, such as myself, who has a basic understanding of economics & international trade.
B Graham (1 month ago)
I do not agree that the US counts on China to buy it's national debt all that much. As of now China holds about 5% of the US national debt. Do the math. 1.2 trillion/ 22 trillion = 5.4%
Steven Escover (1 month ago)
The end results will be a global recession because in simply language it creates insincerity and instability for the future in and ingradated world economy. We are at the end of a business cycle which used the creation of liquity to wash away debt from 2008 depression. We are reverting to nationalistic policies and protectionism which couls result in a serious lowering of our standard of living because we are a debtor nation both at a governmental level and privately as individuals. We will go into recession by Christmas this year but the level of severity will depend on this chaotic policies which we have a rogue president. It's the common worker who will pay for this ill thought and selfish administration.
Rani Rich (1 month ago)
China's holding of America's debt isn't close in amount to the intellectual property they've stolen, nor can China survive without U.S. in selling their goods. Apple hasn't exactly been user friendly or Constitutionally lawful to our rights and freedom. Personally, I reject their Tracking Devices and DATA Theft equipment they call cell phones! When more people Awaken to reality, they will do the same in taking back their freedom and rights of Privacy!
James Doz (1 month ago)
This a lie, China sold off most of its reserves a few years back and you did not hear about it because it did nothing, No harm to the US, and if they sold off 80% already it nothing happened what will the last 20% do Zero, The latest BS I hear bing spun is rare earth elements and how China has everyone at their mercy because they control and own the market, While they do control the market, The only reason is we shut our mines as did most other countries because China was willing to sell to us at a huge discount, The USA just needs to reopen the mines, it may take 6 months or so but its not like we need them and they have us over a barrel. 6 months and by then China's economy will be finished, Its close to being finished now, BTW why does no one talk about the FACT that China will run out of Fresh water by 2024????.
mike dar (1 month ago)
Why it isn't a Nuke option is that China is reducing its U.S. debt holdings all the time now. In a decade they will cease to be entirely.
Danafondo (1 month ago)
So many people comment on how the US is an aggressor, bully, etc. Chinese and Eastern European and African "tribes" were hacking each other up with anything they could lay their hands on way before the North American continent was even discovered. The idea that the world would suddenly be a much better and/or safer place if the US would suddenly cease to exist is patently ridiculous.
Ming Yang (1 month ago)
Try all you must USA the Evil Empire but you can not stop China rise. Lol! It’s already too late.
Shawn Mathew (1 month ago)
This video is dumb.If China dump treasury the fed will buy all of it from it account quickly or other countries will buy it .China will be hurt the most .Trump could freeze their selling just give a phone call to the fed.China real weapon is to buy gold and use it to fight the dollar
I AM NOT A ROLE MODEL (1 month ago)
80% minerals 80% lost of china french can benefit and other asian countries that do have that same kinds of mineral it's a win for other countries
Joanna Fr (1 month ago)
Pro Chinese tariff people are just like the pro Iran war people. They think we won Afghanistan and Iraq and that we have enough troops for a country that will shut down ALL oil and leave us just like Japan was in 1945 - you could mobilize ON FOOT ALONE.  No oil. No war.
Joanna Fr (1 month ago)
Americans don't understand what "tariffs" mean. They really think that the Chinese government will pay or that companies pay.  ALL CONSUMERS PAY THESE COSTS.  Our pockets are being pilfered so that American companies that can't or won't compete feel better temporarily while WE pay for it.
Pat Cattin (1 month ago)
China has no ability to retaliate. 1. Tariffs ..... good we buy more American made products. 2. Make it even more difficult for American companies in China ? ........ good we build more here. 3. Sell our debt ? Financial suicide for China. They would have to sell at a discount and what do they replace it with ? Venezuelan bolivars ? We (the USA) would be much better off with not doing business with China. Cheating and lying is a part of their culture. They aren’t going to change.
Bennett Cheng (1 month ago)
That's because No US administrations in the past were stupid enough to rise "Trade War". I mean this is not a poker game; here's no such thing as winner takes it all! All parties will lose for sure.
ScudoJung MeeMoo (1 month ago)
US can complain all they wants about how Chinese unfair tactic But another thing you have to remember is that US aren't fair to the rest of the world either. Used to be that every currencies are backed by Gold. Dollar use to back by Gold. People using US Dollar as standard currency . Now US Dollar backed by NOTHING. And also what is Deficit budget. ? It's means US outspend what they earned. So they have to issue Govt' Bond which country like China buying them.  So in China point of view. Why should any country be allowed to print out it's money without any regulation. ?
Eagle 367 (1 month ago)
They can stop their export to US of important minerals as well
Fred W (1 month ago)
US is just finding an excuse to contain.China. See what Navaro said if you have a buttom to stop China Why not push it?
Obi2 (1 month ago)
China held close to 4 trillions US debts few years back, and now is down to 1.2 trillions. Obviously China has been planning on moving away from the Dollar, and that is what hurting USA. It's like your parents cut down your credit card limits and you are throwing a temper tantrum.
X P (1 month ago)
The trade war is just a good excuse for Chinese to get rid of us debt and delink the unreliable USA. Thanks trump. Trump 2020.
Comrade (1 month ago)
Lol not a whole lot of wiggle room? When you sanctioned them, they just started buying from others like Russia. They got the advantage obviously, they don't have unpayable trillions dollars of debt.
Kevin McDonald (1 month ago)
Actually, they do have unpayable trillions of dollars in debt that they need to manage carefully which is one of the reasons why they partially back their own currency, the Yuan,, with the stability of us treasuries. Currently, according to official Chinese State reporting, their national debt is approximately 5.4 trillion dollars, but that is almost 48% of their annual GDP and that number is expected to rise by three or four percentage points in the coming year. And this is only based on officially reported numbers. Many economic experts in forecasters believe that China's unreported that equal or exceeds the currently reported him out meaning their debt could be two to three times as much as what is being reported. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/22/chinas-debt-levels-to-worsen-in-2019-morgan-stanley.html
aloha270999 (1 month ago)
Trumps trade war will back fire and US economywill suffer. Trump will not be re elected. Trump has NO diplomatic skills to solve his own mess. US companies will leave America for profit anytime. China wont deal with Trump anymore.
hello there (1 month ago)
Right its ok for China to sell $500 billion of stuff but put trade barriers ban Google and Facebook and Amazon while US is stuck at selling $200 billion and losing intellectual property to theft ...why fight right ... Let China keep getting stronger at the expense of America and one day will come and bite America
Anti War (1 month ago)
Old news.....China, Russia, Japan all selling USA debt back. They're crashing the dollar!
Eagle 367 (1 month ago)
Aren't countries stocking on gold now?
M Piper (1 month ago)
Everybody needs a daily dose of world economics.
Michael Pondo (1 month ago)
China has us by the monetary balls. China could easily become a world leader in all aspects if rnis world.
gonzo garrgonzo (1 month ago)
China has been stealing intellectual property from Western countries for decades now and it needs to stop
I AM NOT A ROLE MODEL (1 month ago)
Joe Montana (1 month ago)
@I AM NOT A ROLE MODEL colin powell
I AM NOT A ROLE MODEL (1 month ago)
@Joe Montana White Power!
Joe Montana (1 month ago)
with all that ching chang chong talk
Oscar T (1 month ago)
Who? Ever Moves To China Its an Idiot.. We Need To Stop Buying Chinese Products..
kimeli (1 month ago)
4th one is rare earth.
dwardt1 (1 month ago)
Jonny Misutshin (1 month ago)
looks like its 2008 all over again
ricky v (1 month ago)
Who ever holds the debt? Has control of the one they hold the debt for. We’ll of course wait and see what happens. (:
Some 1 (1 month ago)
they can stop exporting vital chemical elements like rare earth products. recently they have said they could. lot's of products with those and China has the monopoly.
Lando Johnson (1 month ago)
Good information video.
PinkGuy VEVO (1 month ago)
We are all pawns in a bigger game, forget your American Pride if you truly value your life
Lucifer Deathdig (1 month ago)
Americans from start of day to end of day all "MADE IN CHINA" LOL
J Gee (1 month ago)
This piece is full of common misconceptions and biased reporting.
Melvin Ramirez (1 month ago)
Marly Marl (1 month ago)
It just doesn’t make any sense when we’re already in debt with China.
VK HAM (1 month ago)
What is the US total debt including government, bonds and corporations, ...etc ? Over $72 Trillion dollars.
Michael Kranyak (1 month ago)
I am not losing sleep over Apple or any company that relocated into China. They turned there back on the US screw them suffer . You want to sell your products to the US consumer then build new factories in our country.
Myka Fowler (1 month ago)
Our presidents mainly just talk like they answer to the people, but really it’s mostly talk and it kind‘a is like China where they don’t have to answer to the people, except in China they don’t have to pretend like they do they can just outright not. Not saying that China isn’t worse with that, not saying trump isn’t making the right moves, just saying that if it really were for the people a lot would be different, we would have even more of a say. Hopefully it’s getting back to that, I see it more and more with Trump everyday, he’s doing good, I don’t even like they guy but I can see he’s making more moves than the president’s we’ve seen in the last 40 years! Lol
Gemarica (1 month ago)
No need to sell, just do not buy US debts anymore, tell other Asian countries to do the same.
Albert Moore (1 month ago)
Can China be expelled from WTO?
Albert Moore (1 month ago)
@壹貳 I don't believe you. Can the United States withdraw from WTO, Confucius?
壹貳 (1 month ago)
Motion MediaVFX (1 month ago)
Fall the Communist's China right now! Those predecessors in the past damaged the country so hard to cooperate with China!
Motion MediaVFX (1 month ago)
Still wrong again! Investing technologies in China would get spied on everyone around the world! They get rich if the business follows what CCP wants, those CCP theft stole our Intellectual Property! You need to understand better about the security. If you earn a lot of money, then you buy something from "Made In China"! Still Win-Win! And yes, if they used the leftover materials, they were surely rebuilding that country! Read the book from protecting our country and their own countries!
Motion MediaVFX (1 month ago)
The way you think is false. and you do not understand. After the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the Chinese Democratic Party, KMT, lost to the Communists, because the Chinese Democratic Party was spied by the armies of Communists during the civil war. After the victory of Communists, the Communists and Socialists destroyed all of their history's cultures, changed their religion beliefs, destroyed the ancestors and the gods! Their key was to change the way they didn't believe the gods, they believe and pray the communists regime only! Apart from that, the CCP regime wanted to abolish the Chi exercise and kidnapped those who protests at Tiananmen Square in 1999! But right now those people and the country who supports CCP, the socialist countries were brainwashed by the CCP and the recent regime! US didn't do anything stupid like this because they believed the gods from not doing slavery! How could you say US is more socialists than that country! Don't just blame US again! Ask the other countries who doesn't like slaves and religion believes from the Socialists and Communists, including Venezuela! No food, no water, no electricity and etc. to survive! Democracy countries have food to eat, while without democracy countries did not have food to stay survive!
callmeWeiGe (1 month ago)
Also FYI, big US corporates such as Apple, Nike, Levi's etc. took most profits through making products in China, while Chinese get job opportunities and tiny tiny profit through manufacturing. Every time you see a $1000 dollar trade deficit from importing an iphone, remember China only gets $8.46 profit. Blame your own corporate greed not the Chinese who work hard as crap and earned so little.
callmeWeiGe (1 month ago)
It's funny how the US keeps calling China communist when the CPP itself stopped practicing communism decades ago. Economically even your democratic party is more socialist than the CCP.
我自閉了 (1 month ago)
good luck🙏
Keith Shaw (1 month ago)
Stop talking about the 22 trillion dollar debt it will never get paid back . NEVER
Keith Shaw (1 month ago)
No it’s called bankruptcy. Is there another way that 22 trillion gets paid. That is a huge number you can take everybody money and it would not make a dent
coasteys coasteys (1 month ago)
Keith So just write it off just like Kramer did in Seinfeld So like it's a joke?
griffen98 (1 month ago)
This is CNBC witch has a record of Truth at about 1.5% yet I don't know is this actually real they tell so many lies it's hard to tell. That's sad when something that might be true is confusing because a liar is saying it
World Travel (1 month ago)
It's better in any other country
Michael L (1 month ago)
US has far more business inside China to sell locally other than exporting.
vile rebirth (1 month ago)
Since ancient times the US has been part of china
Out of many One (1 month ago)
Dem-Chicoms is the "Beast-world order" the Bible spoke about in the book of "Revelation" ! #KAG That my friend is Socialism (Communism). Already there is almost universal acceptance among elite insiders that the governments of the world will relinquish their sovereignty to one head, an international world leader. This is clearly predicted (in chapters of Rev 13; Dan. 2; and 2 Thess. 2), and other prophetic passages. Already many secret societies and organizations are working tirelessly to make that come to pass. During the past few years, shocking revelations have been confirmed that, for over 200 years, many influential leaders of some of the most powerful countries of the world have been committed to ushering in a one-world government.
Mustafa Mckinlay-malas (1 month ago)
China is dumping dollars by buying the most gold in the world every year
Eric Fling (1 month ago)
1:56 the debt is actually double what the board says... Time to update your stock footage CNBC.
Comrade (1 month ago)
@Eric Fling everything
Eric Fling (1 month ago)
@Comrade wtf does that have to do with stock footage or the debt?
Comrade (1 month ago)
Maybe learn not to watch well known propaganda channels...
Unreliable Narrator 66 (1 month ago)
Fairness is in the eye of beholder and rarely considers the interests of workers, partocularly Chinese workers.
Marco Polo (1 month ago)
Some might think the tariffs were a capricious act. But it was planned carefully. The idea behind it, albeit a bad one for Americans, is that Russian oligarchs who helped Trump will be repaid via energy subsidies so they can buy and reopen, using European banks, closed industrial plants and attempt to manufacture in the US what we import from |China. All in benefit of Russia. Had the government invest in education, we would have industrial parks making cellphones, computers, screens, ...
Klaa2 (1 month ago)
Japan buys up the same amount of debt.
noah (1 month ago)
Who cares if they sell them. Somebody else will buy them. Stop lieing and saying we need China soo badly