Obama's leverage in China negotiations limited by massive U.S. debt


President Barack Obama will work hard to build trust with China during his trip there, but how far will he be able to go in seeking changes on the key issues -- currency, the trade surplus, North Korea, Iran, human rights and others -- when he's sitting down with his nation's largest creditor? China holds $800 billion in U.S. debt and gets $50 billion a year in interest.

With that level of U.S. debt in its hands, China holds most of the cards. If China started dumping that debt, the value of the U.S. dollar would fall dramatically. China knows it's in the stronger position, as evidenced by its recent decision to ignore the IMF as it continues its stimulus programs. So no matter who was sitting at the table representing the U.S., they wouldn't have much ability to move the Chinese.