The United States will look at the broad global picture when it decides in coming months whether China is manipulating its currency, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Tuesday.
"We're going to make that judgment carefully, looking not just at what's happening in China in the management of their exchange rate regime, but what's happening globally at that time," Geithner said on Bloomberg Television.
US law requires the Treasury Department to issue a report every six months on the currency practices of major trading partners. The next one is due in April.
Geithner's cautious remarks suggest the Obama administration could decide against formally labeling China as a currency manipulator.
Geithner upset China last month when he told the Senate Finance Committee that President Barack Obama believed China was manipulating its currency, using a politically loaded term that the administration of former President George W. Bush had avoided for years in the Treasury report.
US officials later said Geithner was merely repeating comments Obama had made during last year's presidential campaign and the US Treasury Department had not made a formal finding that China was manipulating its currency.
In the televised interview, Geithner praised China for actions it has taken in response to the global economic crisis and stressed the need for the United States and China to work together to restore prosperity around the world.
"They are being an important force for stability in the world and it is in the interest of the United States to work closely with them to help solve this global economic crisis and, again, help bring back the global financial system back to a firmer foundation," Geithner said.
"We have an incredibly important national interest in working carefully with them to solve that outcome," he said.