Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday met with a high-profile U.S. delegation on the sidelines of celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
"The establishment of China-U.S. relations 30 years ago ushered in a new era. The leaders and people of the two nations who made important contributions to this milestone will go down in history, " Wen told former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who led the delegation.
Carter said it was a great honor and pleasure to represent one of the administrations that worked to establish the diplomatic relations and come to Beijing for anniversary celebrations.
Thanks to the "ping-pong diplomacy" that melted the ice between the nations, then U.S. President Richard Nixon paid a groundbreaking visit to China in 1972.
The two countries formally established diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979 when Carter was president of the United States.
"I visited China as a young man when I was in the navy. I always think my life, my destiny are very close to China," Carter said.
He said even before he was inaugurated as president, he discussed with Zbigniew Brzezinski that normalizing relations with China was his "top priority."
The U.S. delegation to the Beijing celebrations included key figures in forging relations such as former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski and former U.S. ambassadors.
In an hour-long meeting with the delegation, Wen said China-U.S. relations had produced fruitful results over the past three decades.
"The most important is that we agreed on the general direction of building constructive cooperation," Wen said.
Wen said the two nations established a series of effective dialogues and mechanisms, developed cooperation in politics, economy, culture and other fields, which cemented the basis of public opinions and interests to develop the bilateral ties and step up the confidence and courage to conquer the difficulties.
"These are our shared treasures and the source of strength for further cooperation," Wen said.
Wen said the current international political and economic situations were complicated and volatile.
"China-U.S. relations stay at a crucial time connecting the past and the future, facing tremendous opportunities and challenges," Wen said.
Wen proposed the two nations take a strategic and long-term perspective, and not waver in developing a constructive partnership.
"Particularly in responding to the international financial difficulties, the two nations should step up mutual trust and cooperation, jointly tackle difficulties, take the relations to a new high and make new contributions for the world's harmonious and sustainable development."
In response, Carter proposed the two countries understand and respect each other, step up dialogues to deal with global challenges, enhance the constructive cooperation.
He also pledged to continuously commit himself to promoting U.S.-China cooperation.