Analysis: "Not likely" China will step up on North Korea

China's role

As President Trump and North Korea increase their war of words, China has been on the sidelines -- and despite Mr. Trump's previous criticisms of Beijing, that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

CBS News foreign correspondent Ben Tracy says it is "not likely at all" that China will step up when it comes to the North Korea crisis. 

China is in a unique position since North Korea depends on China for 90 percent of its trade. But it's unclear how much North Korea would even listen to any words from China, Tracy said.

Kim Jong Un's regime is angry at China for going along with tough new sanctions the United Nations Security Council imposed last week, but Beijing could cut off North Korea's oil supply -- which could cause the regime to collapse, Tracy said. 

China fears refugees streaming into their country.

"If there is a war on the Korean Peninsula, China believes South Korea and the U.S. would win that war," Tracy said. "And the U.S. military on its border is not something it is going to tolerate."

Trump: Maybe North Korea warning "wasn't tough enough"

China's own relationship with the White House is "complicated at best," Tracy said. 

"The Chinese prize stability and predictability," Tracy said. "President Trump is constantly throwing them for a loop. One day, he'll compliment China on its efforts to reign in North Korea and the next day, he threatens them with a trade war."

Thursday's actions aren't likely to help matters. CBS News' David Martin confirmed early Thursday that the destroyer the USS John McCain was patrolling the South China Sea 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, one of the disputed islands occupied by China. This will "only antagonize" China more, Tracy said. 

"When you consider how much the U.S. needs China on this particular issue with North Korea, these sorts of actions are not likely to help," Tracy said.

Mr. Trump went after China during a news conference Thursday.

"I think China can do a lot more, yes, China can," Mr. Trump said. "And I think China will do a lot more. Look, we have trade with China. We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. They know how I feel. It's not going to continue like that. But if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade, a lot differently toward trade."  

Mr. Trump has made similar comments about China before, including tweeting in July that Beijing does "NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!"

Mr. Trump also doubled down on his "fire and fury" warning to North Korea, saying Thursday that "maybe it wasn't tough enough."

"They've been doing this to our country for a long time - for many years, and it's about time someone stuck up for this country and for the people of other countries. So if anything, maybe that statement wasn't tough enough," Mr. Trump said. 

While North Korea says it is in the process of completing a plan for attacking Guam, Mr. Trump said Thursday, "Let's see what he does with Guam. If he does something in Guam ... you'll see."