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Like Xi in China, maybe we'll give 'Prez for life' a shot someday: Trump

US President Donald Trump also described Xi Jinping as 'the most powerful president in 100 years'

Andrea Tan | Bloomberg 

Donald Trump
File photo of US President Donald Trump

Donald appeared to praise Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping’s efforts to extend his tenure in a speech to donors, according to a recording released by CNN.

“Don’t forget China’s great and Xi is a great gentleman. He’s now president for life,” told Republican backers, who erupted in laughter in response to the remarks made Saturday at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

The comments come as China’s national parliament gathers in Beijing for two weeks of meetings expected to culminate in Xi’s appointment to a second term and a constitutional change allowing him to stay on indefinitely. The Communist Party announced the planned amendment Feb. 25, in a surprising break with succession practices set up after Mao Zedong’s fraught tenure.

“And look, he was able to do that,” said. “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day,” he said, prompting more laughter.

The US leader also described Xi as “the most powerful president in 100 years, you know, person in 100 years in

The White House didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Revisionist power

When asked about China’s term-limits move last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called it a “decision for to make about what’s best for their country.”

“The president has talked about term limits in a number of capacities during the campaign,” Sanders said. “It’s something that he supports here in the United States. But that’s a decision that would be up to

The president has spoken positively of Xi’s rapid consolidation of power, telling Fox Business News in October that “some people might call him the king of ” Still, the administration has branded a “revisionist” power and describes the country’s efforts to alter norms as a threat to US security.

Constitutional changes

The U.S. president’s tenure is limited to two full terms under the 22nd Amendment, which received the requisite support from two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states in 1951. Changing the Chinese constitution is much easier, requiring approval from two-thirds of the National People’s Congress, which has historically voiced little opposition to the leadership’s proposals.

The plan to repeal term limits has prompted unusually open expressions of dissent in Li Datong, a former senior editor at the official Youth Daily newspaper, wrote a public letter to urge China’s legislators to vote against the move. Li said the move made the country vulnerable to repeating the power struggles of past eras.

“It planted the seeds for to once again fall into turmoil,” Li wrote.

— With assistance by Justin Sink, Margaret Talev, and Jing Yang De Morel


First Published: Sun, March 04 2018. 09:55 IST