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China’s Foreign Ministry has labeled as “fake news and not worth refuting” a report that Beijing urged Washington to fire the top U.S. naval commander in the Pacific in return for boosted pressure on North Korea.

The report, published Saturday by Kyodo News, said the Chinese leadership had made the request through its ambassador to the United States to dismiss Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris, who has been known for his hard-line stance on China-related issues, including the South China and East China sea disputes.

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