Friday 20 September 2019

Trump hails Chinese president's 'extraordinary' rise as he begins second term

Chinese President Xi Jinping is beginning a second term as leader (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Chinese President Xi Jinping is beginning a second term as leader (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

US President Donald Trump has congratulated Chinese president Xi Jinping on his "extraordinary elevation" as he begins a second, five-year term as leader.

China's ruling Communist Party this week formally lifted Xi's status to China's most powerful ruler in decades by writing his name and dogma into the party's constitution alongside the party founders.

In a tweet, Trump said he had spoken to Xi to congratulate him and that the two discussed trade and North Korea.

In an interview with Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs, shortly after the phone call, Trump described Xi's elevation as something that had "really virtually never happened in China".

"He's a powerful man. I happen to think he's a very good person," said Trump, describing their relationship as notably strong.

"People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he's called president also," he went on to say. "Now some people might call him the king of China. But he's called president."

Five members of the new seven-strong Politburo Standing Committee introduced by Xi were newly appointed on Wednesday.

Going by the party's norms on retirement ages, none of them are deemed suitable to succeed the 64-year-old as party leader after his second five-year term.

The absence of an obvious successor pointed to Xi's longer-term ambitions, said Joseph Fewsmith, an expert on Chinese politics at Boston University.

"It suggests that Xi will likely serve a third term, and that he is likely to name his own successor," Fewsmith said. "We have not seen that for two decades."

Trump and Xi will meet in China next month during Trump's first presidential visit to Asia.

Trump said he would be "going to Beijing and other places, wherever he'd like to take me" and said he hopes the trip will be "historic and positive" with serious progress on North Korea.

Trump will also stop in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines during the November 3-14 trip.

PA Media

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