April 5 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has postponed a report due out on April 15 that could have branded China a “currency manipulator”.
The decision follows an announcement in Beijing that Chinese President Hu Jintao will attend a nuclear security summit in Washington from April 12-13 and seems to be a move to keep tensions over currency in check. [ID:nTOE63100K]
Both governments are seeking to cool those tensions. Here is a timeline of significant dates in relations this year:
Jan. 12 – Google threatens to pull out of China over censorship and hacking attacks from within the country.
Jan. 21 – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers speech calling for Internet freedoms, names China as a country that has stepped up censorship of the web.
Jan. 29 – Obama administration notifies U.S. Congress of proposed arms sales to Taiwan worth $6.4 billion. China condemns the sales to the island, which it considers its territory, and threatens sanctions on companies involved.
Feb. 17 – U.S. aircraft carrier USS Nimitz visits Hong Hong, the self-administered territory under Chinese rule, despite a Chinese pledge to curtail military exchanges with the United States after its announced arms sales to Taiwan.
Feb. 18 – Obama meets exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama at the White House. China reviles the Dalai Lama as a separatist for advocating self-rule for his homeland and condemns the meeting.
March 2-4 – U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Jeffrey Bader, Senior Director for the U.S. National Security Council for Asian Affairs, visit Beijing for talks, seeking to overcome tensions.
March 15 – One hundred and thirty members of U.S. Congress issue a letter demanding more pressure on China to let its yuan currency appreciate. The next day, a bipartisan bill on the issue goes before the Senate.
March 22 – Google shuts its China-based search service Google.cn and begins redirecting mainland Web searchers to a portal in Hong Kong. China criticises Google but does not entirely shut off the Hong Kong site.
March 31 – China agrees to serious negotiations with Washington and other Western powers about proposed new U.N. Security Council-backed sanctions on Iran after months of stressing its reluctance to back sanctions. China has the power to veto any Security Council resolution.
April 1 – China says Hu will attend a summit on nuclear security in Washington, adding to signs that tensions between the two nations are ebbing.
April 3 – Geithner said he was delaying an April 15 report on whether China manipulates its currency but pledged to press for a more flexible Chinese currency policy.
April 12-13 – Obama hosts a multi-nation nuclear security summit in Washington, opening an opportunity for a bilateral meeting with Hu.
April 15-16 – Hu due to attend “BRIC” summit in Brazil, bringing together the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China for their second such meeting.
May 15-25 – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke leads trade mission to Hong Kong, China and Indonesia, promoting deals with American companies in clean energy.
Late-May – Senior officials from the United States and China due to meet in Beijing for Strategic and Economic Dialogue, an annual meeting to discuss broad economic, foreign policy and security concerns. The U.S. side is likely to be led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Geithner.
June 26-27 – Meeting of G20 leaders of major rich and developing economies scheduled in Toronto, Canada, giving Hu and Obama an opportunity to meet.
Later in the year – The two countries are preparing for their Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, a regular meeting that focuses on economic ties. Last year’s was held in late October in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.
Nov. 2 – Mid-term elections for U.S. Congress. With economic concerns uppermost in many voters’ minds, trade and currency tensions with China may become a electoral issue.
Nov. 13-14 – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, to be held in Yokohama, Japan, presents another opportunity for the two leaders to meet.
November – South Korea scheduled to host second summit for the year of the G20 group of major rich and developing economies, where Hu and Obama will have a further chance to meet. The summit is likely to take place immediately before or after the APEC summit.
November-December – When Obama visited China in November 2009, Hu accepted his invitation to visit the United States in 2010. This would be a state visit separate from his attendance at the nuclear summit. No date has been set for the trip. One possibility is June, when Hu attends the G20 summit in Canada, but a date after the U.S. mid-term elections appears more likely. (Reporting by Chris Buckley in Beijing; Jim Wolf, Doug Palmer and Paul Eckert in Washington; Ralph Jennings in Taipei; Editing by Nick Macfie)