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Apple import iPhones manufactured by factories in China. Apple has to pay for these Chinese manufacturers. So, Apple should be in debt with Chinese manufacturers. But why do we say the US government is in debt to China?

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Because, regardless of private debts of Apple, the US government is in debt to China.

As of September 2014, foreigners owned \$6.06 trillion of U.S. debt, or approximately 47% of the debt held by the public of \$12.8 trillion and 34% of the total debt of $17.8 trillion. As of 2018, the largest holders were China, Japan, Ireland, and Brazil.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States#Foreign_holdings

See also MAJOR FOREIGN HOLDERS OF TREASURY SECURITIES

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  • $\begingroup$ Ok. But below link says they are related,ie private debts of Apple accounts for around 5% of US trade deficit:google.co.in/amp/s/qz.com/1234437/… $\endgroup$ – Ganapathi Bhat Sep 30 '18 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ The trade deficit is not the same as public or private debt. I recommend you read about the basic concepts before returning to your question. $\endgroup$ – Giskard Sep 30 '18 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry. The term 'private debt' was a wrong term in my above comment. The link says that the imports made by Apple do account for 5% of trade deficit between US and China. $\endgroup$ – Ganapathi Bhat Oct 1 '18 at 9:34

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