YOKOHAMA, Japan - China's leader in-waiting, Xi Jinping, will have no choice but to embark on political reforms to leave a lasting mark the way the current leadership has done with economic reforms, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said on Monday.
Xi, currently vice president, is expected to take over from President Hu Jintao as Communist Party head at a congress opening in Beijing on Thursday and will then become president in March in a generational leadership change.
"Now Hu Jintao's era (is the) past, now Xi Jinping is coming as president. I think there's no alternative except some political change, so political reform. Economy reform (is) already there" the Dalai Lama told reporters while on a pastoral visit to Japan.
Beijing has branded the Dalai Lama a separatist and accused him of inciting protests against Chinese rule in Tibet, including more than 60 self-immolations in and around the region since March 2011. Beijing denounces the self-immolations as acts by terrorists and criminals.
The Dalai Lama denies he is a separatist and says he only wants meaningful autonomy for his Himalayan region.