Trump says he called President Xi, the 'king' of China

Trump says he called President Xi, the 'king' of China

US President Donald Trump speaks at the National Republican Congressional Committee Annual Spring Dinner in Washington (REUTERS)

US President Donald Trump said he called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping a "king" during his first state visit to Beijing in 2017 and that the top Communist Party leader appeared to appreciate the remark.

Addressing the National Republican Congressional Committee spring dinner in Washington on Tuesday, Trump said Xi had denied he was a king.

"He said, 'But I am not king, I am president.' I said 'No, you're president for life, and therefore you're king'," Trump told his audience, prompting laughter, CNN reported.

"He said, huh. He liked that. I get along with him great," it quoted the US President as saying.

Trump, 72, visited Beijing in November 2017, just months before China's rubber-stamp legislature, the National People's Congress, dropped the two-term limit on the Chinese presidency in March.

The controversial move cleared the way for Xi, 65, to serve indefinitely as China's head of state, strengthening his grip on power.

China abolished monarchical rule in 1912 when the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, Pu Yi, was overthrown to establish the Republic of China.

Xi is also serving as General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

President Trump was accorded red-carpet treatment during his 2017 visit to Beijing, becoming the first foreign leader to dine in the Forbidden City since the founding of modern China.

Speaking from the Great Hall of the People in Beijing before their bilateral meeting, Trump said, "My feeling toward you (President Xi) is an incredibly warm one. As we said, there's great chemistry, and I think we're going to do tremendous things for both China and for the United States. And it is a very, very great honour to be with you. Thank you very much."

After their meeting, Trump told Xi, "I want to thank you again — you're a very special man — for your gracious hospitality."

Trump has also hosted Xi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April 2017.

Following Trump's trip to China the relationship between the two countries has grown rockier. Starting early in 2018, Trump began imposing tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of Chinese exports to narrow the trade deficit, sparking a trade war.

In his speech to the Republican committee, Trump said that had he not imposed the tariffs, the Chinese economy would have caught up with the United States within years.

"They would have caught us within a short period of time ... within two years, by the end of my term, if you had a normal president ... they would have caught us. But right now it's going to be a long time before they catch us," he claimed.

US and Chinese negotiators have been meeting in Beijing and Washington in recent weeks to hammer out a comprehensive trade deal between the world's top two economies.

Trump said his administration was standing up to China's "chronic trade abuses."

"They've taken advantage of our country and you know what, I respect them for it. I say it, we should have been doing that to them," he said.

To pressure China, the US imposed tariffs on USD 250 billion in Chinese goods. Beijing retaliated by taxing USD 110 billion in US imports.