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November 18, 2017

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Chinese President Xi’s impact will rival that of Chairman Mao, Rogich says

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Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the opening session of China’s 19th Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Xi on Wednesday urged a reinvigorated Communist Party to take on a more forceful role in society and economic development to better address “grim” challenges facing the country as he opened a twice-a-decade national congress.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will probably become China’s “most impactful” leader since Chairman Mao Zedong, says Sig Rogich of Las Vegas, a former presidential adviser, sometimes known as the “kingmaker” of Nevada politics.

Rogich, president of the Rogich Communications Group, a Las Vegas-based public relations and crisis management firm that works with China, sees Xi developing into one of the most powerful world leaders of our time.

“President Xi is going to be as impactful as Mao Zedong to China," Rogich said Thursday on “Nevada Newsmakers.” "He will be viewed in the same light. I think he will become a world player to a degree like we have not seen yet."

Chairman Mao was the founding father of the People’s Republic of China and held ultimate power from 1949 to his death in 1976.

The United States faces stiff economic competition in China partially because “he (Xi) is going to have the ability to manufacture at costs we can’t compete with,” Rogich said.

China will soon manufacture batteries and cellphone technology to rival American giants in those fields.

“I am told they are on the verge of announcing batteries that are six or 10 times stronger than our best batteries,” said Rogich, a former U.S. ambassador to Iceland.

“They are building cameras and phones to compete with iPhone,” Rogich said. “Their new product line is very good. And they've got this thing called population and they have geography. They have the essence of what you need, what America has. They don't have as good as geography as we do, But they make up for it with manpower.”

Xi’s influence is on display during China's twice-a-decade party congress that opened on Wednesday. Observers and journalists covering China have reported Xi is all but certain to receive a second five-year term at the weeklong, mostly closed-door congress.

Rogich believes Xi could lead China long after his second term. “He could be there forever, in my view, however long he wants to be,” Rogich said.

Xi’s efforts to curb air pollution in China are impressive, Rogich says. “If you go to Beijing, it’s real. It is cleaner now than it has ever been but it is a real problem. And I have been there on red-alert days or red-flag days where you don’t go out. You just stay in the hotel room because the smog is so severe.”

Sig Rogich welcomes guests as the Malaysia-based Genting Group prepares to break ground on the $4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas property on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Sig Rogich welcomes guests as the Malaysia-based Genting Group prepares to break ground on the $4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas property on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Under Xi, China’s state-owned enterprises are investing in infrastructure projects overseas along the ancient Silk Road land and sea trade routes, part of Beijing's signature Belt and Road Initiative (a development strategy that focuses on cooperation between Eurasian countries), according to Reuters.

China’s centrally owned overseas investments exceed $906 billion), with investments in more than 185 countries and regions, the Chinese state assets regulator said on Wednesday, according to U.S media reports.

“What they are doing in China is extraordinary,” Rogich said. “The Belt and Road Initiative is going to touch about 40 percent of the gross domestic product in the world. Just try to fathom that.”

Ray Hagar is a retired political journalist from the Reno Gazette-Journal and current reporter/columnist for the Nevada Newsmakers podcast and website, nevadanewsmakers.com. Follow Ray on Twitter at @RayHagarNV.