WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping Saturday after the ruling Communist party announced it was eliminating the 2-term limit for the presidency, paving the way for Xi to serve indefinitely, according to audio aired by CNN.
"He's now president for life, president for life. And he's great," Trump said, according to audio of excerpts of Trump's remarks at a closed-door fundraiser in Florida aired by CNN. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot someday," Trump said to cheers and applause from supporters.
US presidents by tradition served a maximum of two 4-year terms until President Franklin Roosevelt was elected a record 4 times starting in 1932. An amendment to the US Constitution approved in 1951 limits presidents to 2 terms in office.
China’s annual parliament gathering kicks off on Monday as Xi presses ahead with efforts to ward off financial risks without undermining the economy. The Communist party announced on Feb 25 the end of the 2-term limit for the president - and the parliament is expected to ratify the move.
During the remarks, Trump praised Xi as "a great gentleman" and added: "He's the most powerful (Chinese) president in a hundred years." Trump said Xi had treated him "tremendously well" during his visit in November.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Saturday.
Trump has often praised Xi, but in January Trump told Reuters the United States was considering a big "fine" as part of a probe into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property. He has been critical of China's trade policies.
Trump told The New York Times in December that because of North Korea he had "been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war."