A state-run Chinese newspaper argued that China should "stay neutral" if North Korean military threatens the U.S., but that China should move to block the U.S. if it moves first to alter the status quo on the Korean Peninsula.

"China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral," the state-run Global Times said in an op-ed, according to Reuters.

"If the U.S. 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," it added.

The story stressed that the paper "does not represent government policy."

Still, it represents a possible hurdle to the U.S. effort to work with China to get North Korea to back away from its plans to demonstrate its military power by lobbing missiles at Guam.

Several policymakers have said the Trump administration needs to start working with China immediately to reduce tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Those tensions have been inflamed by both sides, as President Trump has vowed to respond with "fire and fury" if North Korea makes any aggressive military moves.