China needs to change with new leader: Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama gestures during a press conference in Yokohama

Tibet's spiritual leader Dalai Lama gestures as he answers questions during a press conference in Yokohama, suburban Tokyo, on 5 November 2012. The Dalai Lama arrived on 3 November for a 12-day visit to hold dialogues with Japanese scientists. AFP/Getty Images/Toru Yamanaka

By Kyoko Hasegawa | AFP

YOKOHAMA, Japan, 5 November 2012

The use of “secrecy, censorship and bullying” to silence dissenting voices in China must end under the country’s incoming leader, the Dalai Lama said on Monday.

President-in-waiting Xi Jinping will have “no alternative” but to accept political change over the coming years, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

“Now Hu Jintao era passed. Now Xi Jinping (is) becoming the president. I think there is no alternative except there is some political change,” the Dalai Lama said on the third day of a 12-day stay in Japan.

“Hu Jintao started to build harmonious society, stable society. So for stable society, I think gap (between the) rich and (the) poor must be reduced.

“Also you need an independent judiciary system, free press, rule of law. These are very, very important.

“So the goal, harmony, wonderful. Stability, wonderful. But use of secrecy, censorship and bullying… there is something wrong in their system,” said the saffron-robed monk.

“I think to create a genuine harmony… you need openness.”

China denounces the Dalai Lama as a “splittist” seeking an independent Tibet, accusations he has repeatedly denied.

At a closed-doors congress beginning Thursday, Beijing’s power players will anoint a new chief for the next 10 years. His regime will have to address growing anger over graft as well as challenges from a vocal band of dissidents and rights activists.

Vice president Xi is widely expected to be promoted to Communist Party general-secretary this week and then state president next year, succeeding Hu in a 10-yearly leadership change.

The Dalai Lama has a large following in Japan and he is a frequent visitor to the country, many of whose 127 million people practise some elements of Buddhism.

The 77-year-old Nobel Laureate said he believes democracy is the best system that China could adopt to solve the problems it faces, including a debilitating territorial dispute with Japan.

He said an over-emphasis on nationalism was at the root of difficulties.

Education materials are “extreme, almost like (saying) Chinese culture is (the) best, China (as a) nation is the best”, he said, adding “too much emotion (is) involved, that (is) not realistic.”

The Dalai Lama said a “lack of information” meant many Chinese people associate Japanese people only with wartime atrocities.

He said this led to the kind of anti-Japan outbursts that rocked China after Tokyo’s nationalisation of a disputed East China Sea island chain in September, when shops were looted and businesses burned.

“Basically I think China needs Japan and Japan needs China,” he said, when asked how Beijing and Tokyo could move past the dispute.

“I think you should think more holistic. Small disagreements should not create (conflict). You should think more broadly,” he said.

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