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.

Citing a source it described as "close to U.S.-China ties," the report said Beijing's envoy to the United States, Cui Tiankai, had conveyed the request to the U.S. side to coincide with the first face-to-face meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Florida last month. The Trump administration, the source added, was believed to have rejected the proposal.