The decision made by U.S. President Trump amounts to turning their backs on the wisdom of humanity.
China believed that fighting climate change was an "international responsibility", Li said, the kind of declaration that USA diplomats have made for years when making the case to combat terrorism or nuclear proliferation or hunger.
A person present at the talks said that China had insisted on having a specific reference in a concluding text on the WTO issue.
"Pope Francis called on the world's leaders to come together to protect the gift of our common home".
And although China remains heavily reliant on coal and pollution is a persistent problem for its 1.3 billion citizens, the country's communist rulers say they're determined to institute fundamental change.
China, the world's biggest producer and consumer of steel, vowed past year to reduce its capacity but European steelmakers have complained that cheap Chinese exports are still flooding the market.
On Friday, Jeremy Corbyn accused Theresa May of "subservience" to the US President after her criticism paled in comparison to other European leaders. "And they won't be".
Trump, it is clear, is now ready to become what he had promised before the elections - a frog in the well - instead of the biggest shark in the world ocean that his job automatically entitles him to be.
He said the deal would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
In a joint statement, France, Germany and Italy said the climate deal could not be renegotiated. "Our ongoing negotiations on an investment agreement are a constructive means to re-balance the situation and expand trade and investment".
At their short summit, the European Union and China - two of the world's major polluters - are set to issue a statement reaffirming their stance on global warming following Trump's announcement Thursday. This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.
Trump said he was prepared to discuss a new deal but backed out of the existing one joining only Syria, Nicaragua as countries not participating.
"What the Paris accord represented, in a fractured world, was finally some global consensus, led by two big polluters, China and the United States, on a common course of action", said Graham T. Allison, the author of a new book, "Destined For War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?"
"City Hall shines green tonight because New York City will honor the goals of the #ParisAgreement", Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote in a tweet Thursday.
White House aides have been divided on the question of staying or leaving the accord and had been deliberating on "caveats in the language" as late as Wednesday, one official said.
Former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger released a video condemning Trump's decision on Thursday. Just hours before Trump spoke, China's premier, Li Keqiang, stood alongside Merkel, and used careful words as he described China as a champion of the accord. While his own country would suffer the consequences of Trump's decision, the impact on the global order could be enormous.
He said that participating would undermine the United States economy, wipe out USA jobs, weaken American national sovereignty and put the country at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.
During Disney's annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, an audience member took the mic and blasted Iger for being a member of Trump's business advisory council. It is economics, not the Paris Agreement, that is killing American coal jobs.
Vestas said a withdrawal from the climate pact makes little economic sense.