Donald Trump praised Xi Jinping on Saturday after the ruling Communist party announced it was eliminating the two-term limit for the presidency, paving the way for the Chinese leader to serve indefinitely, according to audio aired by CNN.
"He's now president for life, president for life. And he's great," Mr Trump said of the Chinese president, according to audio of excerpts of Mr 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," Mr Trump said to cheers and applause from supporters.
US presidents by tradition served a maximum of two four-year terms until President Franklin Roosevelt was elected a record four times starting in 1932. An amendment to the US Constitution approved in 1951 limits presidents to two terms in office.
China’s annual parliament gathering kicks off on Monday as Mr Xi presses ahead with efforts to ward off financial risks without undermining the economy.
Xi Jinping | The wisdom of Xi
The Communist party announced on February 25 the end of the two-term limit for the president - and the parliament is expected to ratify the move.
During the remarks, Mr Trump praised Mr Xi as "a great gentleman" and added: "He's the most powerful (Chinese) president in a hundred years." Mr 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 on Saturday.
Mr Trump has often praised the Chinese leader, but in January Mr 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.
Profile | Xi Jinping
Mr 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."
During the speech in Florida, Mr Trump also complained that his actions during the 2016 campaign remained under scrutiny while those of his former rival, Hillary Clinton, were not.
"I'm telling you, it's a rigged system folks," Mr Trump said. "I've been saying that for a long time. It's a rigged system. And we don't have the right people in there yet. We have a lot of great people, but certain things, we don't have the right people."
The president has been critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently.
Mr Trump attacked Mr Sessions for asking the inspector general to investigate potential surveillance abuses by the FBI in the early stages of the Russia investigation, saying that such a probe should be handled instead by "Justice Department lawyers." Mr Sessions later defended himself in an unusual statement.
The president also took aim at former President George W Bush over his decision too invade Iraq.
"Here we are, like the dummies of the world, because we had bad politicians running our country for a long time," he said, calling the Iraq invasion "the single worst decision ever made".
"That was Bush. Another real genius. That was Bush," Mr Trump said sarcastically. "That turned out to be wonderful intelligence. Great intelligence agency there."