The Bush administration has decided to remain neutral on China's bid to host the 2008 Olympics, The Washington Post reported.

Citing unnamed officials, the paper said in Monday's editions that the administration hopes a neutral position will help defuse an issue China has called an emotional one for its people.

It quoted a senior State Department official as saying awarding the games to China might be "a powerful but intangible incentive" for China to improve its human rights performance and to exercise restraint toward Taiwan.

The paper said the administration decision comes as momentum seems to be fading in Congress to pass resolutions opposing the Chinese Olympic bid.

The International Olympic Committee meets in Moscow on July 13 to choose a site for the 2008 games. China is believed to be the leading candidate, with France, Canada and Japan also in the running.

Although neither the U.S. nor other governments have a direct role in choosing Olympic sites, the lack of any informal U.S. opposition to China's bid would enhance China's chances of being chosen, the Post said.

The United States hopes to land the games in 2012.