China today expressed sorrow over the death of US student Otto Warmbier following his release from North Korea in a coma, and urged Washington and Pyongyang to resolve tensions through dialogue. “I think this is an unfortunate thing,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news briefing.
“We hope that North Korea and the US can handle it appropriately,” he added. Asked if Warmbier’s death would affect China’s relations with its ally North Korea, the spokesman only repeated Beijing’s call for the nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula to be resolved through talks.
Warmbier, 22, died on Monday after 18 months in detention in North Korea. He had been medically evacuated back to the US last week in a coma with severe brain damage.
His death came as top diplomats and defence chiefs from the US and China were due to meet in Washington tomorrow.
The meeting is expected to focus on North Korea and US President Donald Trump, who condemned North Korea following news of Warmbier’s death, has urged Beijing to use its diplomatic and economic influence to pressure Pyongyang about its nuclear programme.
Geng said the meeting would be an opportunity for the two countries to have an “in-depth exchange of views” on issues including North Korea, the South China Sea and cooperation on counter-terrorism.
“China hopes that joint efforts with the US will promote dialogue and achieve positive results,” he said, adding that Beijing “hopes to continue communication and cooperation with the US and relevant parties” to work towards denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.