US President Donald Trump has said he called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “king” during a visit to China 18 months ago, and said his Chinese host “liked it”. Speaking at a Republican fundraising dinner in Washington on Tuesday, Trump shared the episode with guests, apparently to underline his friendly relationship with the Chinese leader. The revelation came a day before negotiators from the United States and China began another round of highly anticipated talks in Washington to try to end their months-long trade war. “President Xi, who is a strong man, I call him ‘king’,” Trump said in a wide-ranging speech at Tuesday’s dinner. “He said, ‘But I am not king, I am president.’ I said, ‘No, you are president for life, and therefore you are king.’ He said, ‘Huh … huh.’ He liked that. I call him ‘king’. I get along with him great.” Party gives its version of how Xi’s term limit move unfolded Trump said he made the remark to Xi during his visit to Beijing in November 2017 – but it was four months later that the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, passed a constitutional amendment abolishing the term limit of the Chinese presidency. A month after Trump’s visit to China, the White House published a national security strategy, in which it called China a “strategic competitor” , and months later the tariffs war with China began. Zhang Zhexin, a US affairs expert at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said China was unlikely to take Trump's rhetoric too seriously. “China won't feel too offended even if Trump says something bad about China; and neither will China feel too good when Trump says "Xi is my best friend", or "Xi is a great leader of the nation" and such,” Zhang said, while adding that the comment was unlikely to make it into the mainland’s state media due to political concerns. “Such a claim will soon die out in the domestic and international media, with no public exposure and no official response.” Trump gets red-carpet welcome but tough tests ahead in China Zhang said it was imprudent of Trump to call Xi "king" in the first place, and even worse to make the claim that "Xi seemed to like it”. Steve Tsang , director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, said it did “not seem beyond Trump to have said something like this to Xi”, but it was “nowhere near the worst” of his many outrageous comments. "The timing is not problematic since the 19th Party Congress took place in October 2017, a few weeks before Trump claimed to have said it,” Tsang said. “It was blatantly obvious by then that Xi would stay in power for life. I find this particular Trump claim credible." Trump has been known to conduct diplomacy through flattery, touting his good relations with world leaders even during tense negotiations. In his meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump called Kim a “great leader” as the two sides positioned to make a historic nuclear deal for the Korean peninsula – although he had called Kim “rocket man” in 2017 when tensions were high, and a “maniac” on his campaign trail in 2015. But Trump balanced the apparent warmth towards Xi with a warning in his remarks at Tuesday’s fundraiser. “I was really hitting him hard about how they have hurt our country,” Trump said in an apparent reference to a speech he gave during his trip to China. “And I had 5,000 Chinese people [watching]. I’m in China, I’m in Beijing, doing this. And he’s getting angrier and angrier, and then I saved it: I said, ‘You know, I don’t blame you, I blame the leaders of our country for allowing that to happen.’” The two countries resume their trade talks in Washington on Wednesday, with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He meeting US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. White House adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday at a meeting with the US Chamber of Commerce that the two sides were “expected to make headway”, according to a Reuters report.