China's state-owned The Global Times said the country won't help North Korea if it attacks the US, but would intervene if the US attempted to attack North Korea preemptively.
In an editorial, The Global Times said China should tell both sides that "when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand."
"China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the US and South Korea carry out strikes 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 article said.
China will "firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China's interests are concerned. The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in a statement said, "The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive. China hopes that all relevant parties will be cautious on their words and actions, and do things that help to alleviate tensions and enhance mutual trust, rather than walk on the old pathway of taking turns in shows of strength, and upgrading the tensions."
One of China's main concerns is that a radioactive cloud may enter its territory if nuclear war takes place in North Korea. The eastern power is also concerned that Japan might acquire nuclear weapons. Its opposition to placing the US THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea stems from concern that the US would be able to spy on China in addition to North Korea.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that North Korea has already developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead capable of being fitted onto an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), placing parts of the US within range of a North Korean nuclear strike.
On Tuesday night, North Korea threatened the US Pacific territory of Guam with nuclear missiles, after US President Donald Trump said he would respond with "fire and fury" if North Korea does not cease its threats against the US.