A U.S. government program that sends Chinese on American tours is back in official Chinese favor, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said Thursday, underscoring the much-improved relations of recent months.

Though tensions persist, both sides appear determined to stress pragmatic cooperation and put aside ideological and human rights issues.The Chinese government never formally blocked the U.S. International Visitor Program, which has given more than 600 selected Chinese a brief taste of U.S. society since 1979.

But since June 4, 1989, when the Chinese army killed hundreds of unarmed civilians in crushing a pro-democracy movement, about half the Chinese invited by the program have begged off, apparently under official Chinese pressure.