The Massachusetts Democrat's plan, outlined in a letter that was sent to Trump on the eve of his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, suggests that the US should agree to direct talks with North Korea in exchange for China's commitment to drastically escalate sanctions against Pyongyang if they fail to negotiate in good faith.
"This coordinated initiative could force North Korea to make real demilitarization concessions, while providing a win for both China and the United States," Markey wrote, adding that China has unsuccessfully urged the US to engage North Korea directly for years.
Rather than continue its tough talk on North Korea, Markey told CNN's "New Day" on Thursday that Trump should ask Xi "to tighten the screws" with economic sanctions.
"But in return, the United States must do something that the Chinese want us to do, which is to engage in direct negotiations with Kim," he said.
Agreeing to negotiate directly with North Korea would signal a drastic shift from former President Barack Obama's policy in dealing with the provocative nation.
But according to one White House official, Trump is not ruling anything out when it comes to dealing with Pyongyang.
"The clock has now run out and all options are on the table," an official told CNN on Tuesday, pointing to the failure of successive administrations' efforts to negotiate an end to North Korea's nuclear program.
Tensions between the US and North Korea continue to escalate as US officials consider the best way forward.
North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea off the Korean Peninsula earlier this week, the latest in a series of recent test firings.
In response, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson only offered a 23-word statement: "North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment."
Even before the missile test, North Korea's nuclear program was expected to be an important talking point between Xi and Trump.
The US has been pushing China to put pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear program and missile testing, but Trump said in an interview published Sunday with the Financial Times that the US would be prepared to act alone to stop North Korea.
Obama warned Trump before he took office that the rogue nation's nuclear program would present him with the most worrisome global challenge. Trump, in the transition period, requested more detailed information about the country's ambitions from the intelligence officials who delivered his initial briefings.