Stressing the need to avoid "chaos" on the Korean peninsula, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said dialogue and negotiations were "the only right choice" to address the threat from North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.
"Right now, the situation on the Korean peninsula is under grave tension and at a critical point," Wang said ahead of a Security Council meeting aimed at agreeing on a global response to North Korea.
World powers must work to "uphold peace and stability on the peninsula and not to allow chaos to break out on the peninsula," he said.
"Peaceful settlements of the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula through a dialogue and negotiations represent the only right choice that is practical and viable."
His comments came after US President Donald Trump said he would prefer a diplomatic solution, but acknowledged the stand-off was highly dangerous and could lead to military action.
"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," he told Reuters. "We'd love to solve things diplomatically, but it's very difficult."
Wang said China's long-standing proposal for a freeze on Pyongyang's military programs in exchange for halting US-South Korea military drills was "sensible and reasonable."
The United States has rejected the Chinese proposal and insists that North Korea first take steps to show that it is ready to abandon its military programs.
Trump has called for stronger UN sanctions on North Korea, but the administration wants China to take the lead in diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis by using its leverage on Pyongyang.
No resolutions will be adopted at the UN meeting, but it will allow the United States and its allies to put pressure on China.
North Korea is seeking to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five atomic tests, two of them last year.
China, Pyongyang's number one trade partner, has repeatedly called for a return to talks on denuclearization but has been reluctant to use economic pressure that could destabilize North Korea.