Wednesday's discussions replace a sprawling strategic and economic dialogue held annually under the Obama administration. Those talks rarely produced significant results.
The Trump statement about China was likely to increase pressure on Beijing ahead of Wednesday's Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, which will pair U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis with China's top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and General Fang Fenghui, chief of joint staff of the People's Liberation Army.
The tweet, which came hours before the United States and China were set to meet in Washington to talk about North Korea, caught multiple Trump administration officials off guard, leaving them scrambling as they tried to figure out what exactly what the President meant.
Earlier this month, two Chinese citizens were killed by Islamic State militants after being kidnapped in southwestern Pakistan. Divisive trade issues will be tackled separately at a later date. Trump appeared to acknowledge as much in a tweet Wednesday, a day after Warmbier's death.
Despite global sanctions and threats of military action by President Donald Trump, North Korea has not backed off from its intention to launch a sixth nuclear weapons test. US officials are reportedly concerned that such a test could occur during Wednesday's meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The circumstances of his detention and what medical treatment he received in North Korea remain unknown.
The security talks between US and Chinese diplomats and defense chiefs are occurring amid outrage in Washington over the death of Otto Warmbier days after the American student was released from imprisonment in North Korea in a coma.
Wambier's parents did not cite a specific cause of death but blamed "awful, torturous mistreatment" by North Korea.
From the White House to Capitol Hill, pressure mounted for a tough USA response, even as us diplomats sought to protect others Americans from facing a similar fate.
"It has been 10 years since we were serious about North Korea sanctions and it is not too late to increase the pressure on Beijing and Pyongyang to protect the United States and its allies from the unsafe Kim regime", said Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions specialist and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
In regards to his White House meeting with President Trump next week, Moon highlighted the importance of working together with the U.S. He was leaving North Korea on January 2, 2016, when he was detained at the airport.
United States officials said the first and main item on the agenda would be persuading China to lean on Kim Jong-Un's North Korea regime, in order to halt its provocative missile and nuclear plans.
Earlier this year, Beijing called on Pyongyang to suspend its nuclear and missile testing while calling on the USA to stop military exercises on and near the Korean Peninsula, which North Korea sees as a threat to its sovereignty.
(AP Photo/John Minchillo). Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, speaks during a news conference, Thursday, June 15, 2017, at Wyoming High School in Cinci.
"A lot of the wages of these workers go to the regime and to fund unlawful programs in North Korea", Thornton told reporters. While there's a chance that the tourism industry encourages minor domestic reforms and exposes more North Koreans to the outside world, the funds also potentially further the country's weapons program.
"Even today, there are many Korean nationals and American citizens who are detained in North Korea", Moon said.
That pressure "should include sanctioning Chinese companies and banks that are aiding North Korea's sanctions evasion", he added.