WASHINGTON — Tensions between China and the United States have ebbed significantly in recent days, with the countries now working together to confront Iran over its nuclear ambitions and with the Obama administration backing off a clash over China's currency.
The warming trend was evident in the Chinese government's announcement Thursday that President Hu Jintao will attend a nuclear security summit in Washington on April 12 and 13. American officials had feared that Hu would skip the talks to express China's anger over recent diplomatic clashes, including a White House decision to sell arms to Taiwan and President Barack Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader.
But this week, the drumbeat of bad news has suddenly given way to talk of collaboration on Iran.
The United States is also setting aside for now potentially the most divisive issue in the relationship, deferring a decision on whether to accuse China of manipulating its currency until well after Hu's visit, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing an administration official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Many economists expect China to loosen the tight link of its currency to the dollar — a policy that keeps the currency's value depressed and makes China's exports more competitive in global markets.
The confirmation that Hu will take part in the meeting came less than a day after China appeared to throw its support behind U.N. sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran over its nuclear program. In recent months, the five permanent members of the Security Council have been stymied by China's insistence on diplomacy over sanctions.
But Obama had expressed optimism that the major powers could unite behind a resolution that would apply new pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.