Kina solgte amerikanske statsobligasjoner for 34 milliarder dollar i desember. Det kan være utrykk for manglende tillit, men det kan også være et uttrykk for politisk misnøye fordi Barack Obama møter Dalai Lama og selger våpen til Taiwan.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has said he is ‘a little bit worried’ about the safety of his country’s investments in US bonds. Photograph: Greg Baker/AP

China sold $34bn (£21.5bn) worth of US government bonds in December, raising fears that ­Beijing is using its financial ­muscle to signal that it has lost confidence in American economic policy.

US treasury figures for the period ending in December 2009 show that, following the sale, China is no longer the largest overseas holder of US treasury bonds. Beijing ended the year sitting on $755.4bn worth of US government debt, compared to Japan’s $768.8bn.

Since the sub-prime crisis that began on Main Street USA grew to engulf the global economy, China’s leaders have repeatedly expressed concerns about US policy. December’s $34bn sell-off made only a tiny dent in Beijing’s total holdings of US assets, which amount to well over $1tn when stakes in American companies, as well as treasury bills, are taken into account.

But the news intensified concerns about China’s appetite for bankrolling ever-widening American deficits. Premier Wen Jiabao told reporters last year: «We have made a huge amount of loans to the United States. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I’m a little bit worried.»

China sells $34.2bn of US treasury bonds