Trump tweeted, "I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!"
John Engler, former president of the Business Roundtable advocacy group, called Trump's trade relations "carrot" to China "a little bit novel."
"I don't know that anyone would know exactly what that means. I assume it means we'll have a better relationship. We can talk more," Engler said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.
"I don't think that suddenly [means] China doesn't have to respect or protect the intellectual property of the U.S., [and] their trading rules can be rigged in their favor," said Engler, a Republican who had served three terms as governor of Michigan.
In a second tweet Trump wrote, "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A."
The president made clear his hope that China will pressure its neighbor and close ally to stop its nuclear program.
He has also repeatedly hammered China for exporting more goods to the U.S. than it imports.
— CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere contributed to this report.