China’s foreign ministry said his declaration “confirmed the verdict on the Malaysia Airlines accident”, expressing “deep grief” for the passengers.
“We ask the Malaysian government to fulfil their promise to continue investigating the reason for the accident,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
But many Chinese relatives of MH370 passengers have consistently expressed beliefs that their loved ones are alive, perhaps being held at an unknown location, despite the mounting indications of a fatal crash.
Several of those at the airline office held signs with a picture of an airplane, reading: “It will surely return safely”.
Bao Lanfang, whose grandson was on board, told reporters, “Everyone has been lying to us”, before collapsing on the floor and crying.
“I will do anything to see him again,” the 63-year-old added through her tears. “Just tell me what I need to do, I’ll do it.”
French officials who analysed the wreckage said only that there was a “very high probability” it came from MH370 and Wen Wancheng, whose 34-year-old son was on board, noted: “The French examiners were instead very cautious. They haven’t drawn a conclusion.
“How can you jump to the conclusion that the plane has crashed simply on the basis of a single piece of debris? It could be pulled from other aircraft,” he told AFP.
On a social media group other relatives expressed similar sentiments, saying: “Don’t believe them! They must have switched the debris! We do believe all our relatives will come back safe and sound!”
There was a heavy police presence outside the airline’s office to greet the relatives, who say they have faced repeated harassment from state security.
Elsewhere Chinese people took to social media sites to express scepticism about Malaysia, whose reputation has taken a knock in China for its handling of the incident.
“Malaysia wanted to avoid the large amount of payment for the relatives so it announced that it found the debris in Reunion and that the airplane crashed accidentally. We don’t believe Malaysia,” one comment on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo read.