The warning, delivered through an editorial in the Chinese state-run newspaper, comes as both the US and North Korea continue to exchange incendiary remarks, raising the risk of overreaction or miscalculation amid the crisis.
Beijing should make it clear that “if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the Global Times wrote.
But if the US and its ally South Korea take on Pyongyang and try to “overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so,” the paper stressed.
“If war really breaks out, the US can hardly reap any strategic harvest and North Korea will face unprecedented risks,” the paper cautioned, noting that “North Korea aims to propel the US to negotiate with it, while the US wants to put North Korea in check.”
Beijing was unable “to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time,” the Global Times said, adding it primarily pursues peace and stability in the region.
All sides involved in the crisis should understand that “when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand,” the government paper explained.
US President Donald Trump added more fuel to the North Korean crisis, saying that his previous threat to unleash “fire and fury which the world has never seen” was perhaps not “tough enough.”
Pyongyang also announced that a detailed plan to launch missiles against the US Pacific airbase on Guam will be completed soon. In response, the US military signaled it could dispatch strategic bombers to target North Korea’s missile launch sites, underground facilities and other installations.
Such a “reckless game” may result in dire consequences, the Global Times said, adding that “Neither Washington nor Pyongyang really wants war, but a war could break out anyway as they do not have the experience of putting such an extreme game under control.”
China – North Korea’s long-standing economic partner and ideological ally – reiterated on Friday that all sides involved in the crisis must “speak and act with caution” as well as build up trust rather than “taking turns in shows of strength,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Also, Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged US President Donald Trump on Saturday to avoid rhetoric that could inflame tensions with North Korea as an escalating war of words raised global alarm.
Xi made the plea in a phone call hours after Trump ramped up his warnings to Pyongyang, saying it would "truly regret" taking hostile action against the United States.
China's Foreign Ministry stressed that Xi urged Trump to avoid "words and deeds" that would "exacerbate" the already-tense situation, exercise restraint, and seek a political settlement.
The US President took a swipe at China days ago, saying he was "disappointed" in the Asian giant.
"I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!," Trump stressed.
Trump has had an up and down relationship with China, accusing the country of manipulating its currency during the campaign [though not as president] and complaining of trade imbalances.
However, once in office Trump seemed to sweeten on the Asian economic powerhouse, and after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April at his Mar-a-Lago resort, stressed that "we have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China. We'll be making a lot of additional progress. The relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding."
After the G20 Summit in German city of Hamburg in early July, Trump announced that he'd had a very productive meeting with Xi on trade and North Korea – but only three days before he'd been chastising Beijing for not working with the US.
However, US arms sales to Taiwan have strained the relationship, as has the problem of North Korea. China remains the only significant ally of the Hermit Kingdom, and Trump has used both carrots and sticks to urge Beijing to rein in its Southern neighbor.
China, meanwhile, has announced that Beijing is not responsible for the actions of Pyongyang and as nations like the US and others continue to impose unilateral sanctions, is pushing for dialogue and multilateral action to resolve the ongoing crisis.
Beijing also announced that its trade ties with the US and North Korea’s nuclear program are two unrelated issues and “should not be discussed together” after US President Donald Trump said Beijing was failing to contain Pyongyang despite making profits from business with Washington.
US Vice President Mike Pence during an Eastern European trip days ago lamented Beijing's actions in the effort to pressure Pyongyang, saying that "we believe China should do more".
He added that "the President has been clear about that in his conversations with President Xi [Jinping] that while China has taken unprecedented steps to begin to isolate North Korea economically and to bring diplomatic pressure, we believe China has a unique relationship with the regime in North Korea and has a unique ability to influence decisions by that regime."
South Korea had stressed in late July restoring dialogue with North Korea was urgently needed to ease military tension and called on Pyongyang to respond to its proposal for talks.
North Korea announced late July that Pyongyang had conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that proved its ability to strike all of America's mainland, stressing that the test was meant to remind the US that it should "wake up from the foolish dream of doing any harm” to the country.
North Korea had also announced early July that Pyongyang has successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, which is capable of hitting anywhere in the world.
The White House also annonced early August that US President has reluctantly signed into law a bill by Congress that imposes new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.