BEIJING (AFP) - US President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to maintain bilateral ties between the United States and China that blossomed over the last 30 years of China's economic reform period, state press said Monday. Former US president Jimmy Carter passed on the message from Obama to Chinese President Hu Jintao during talks marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations, the official Xinhua news agency said. "I explained the purpose of this visit to President-elect Obama," Carter was quoted as telling Hu of his meeting on Wednesday last week with Obama. "He wants me to extend to you his personal greetings and his commitment to continue the mutual respect and partnership we've enjoyed over the past 30 years." During his presidency, Carter normalised US relations with China as the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping initiated the market economic reforms that have led to unprecedented economic growth in the world's most populous nation. Carter was in Beijing to mark the occasion with other leading former US officials, including former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski. "As the biggest developing nation and the biggest developed nation, China and the United States shoulder the common responsibilities of human peace and development," Hu was quoted as saying. "The significance and impact of China-US ties go beyond a bilateral relationship." Hu said bilateral ties should be handled from a long-term strategic perspective and the two countries should seek to respond jointly to global challenges, it said. "It is natural for the two nations to be divided on some issues as the two practise different social systems, inherit different histories and cultures and are in a different phase of development," Hu said.