BEIJING (AP) — Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng is appealing to the newly named head of the ruling Communist Party to carry out political reforms to avoid violence.

In a taped statement from exile in New York released Sunday, Chen said Xi Jinping needs to promote change to assuage anger against political oppression.

Just days earlier, Chen's nephew was sentenced to three years in prison for assault, in what was seen as retaliation by local officials angered by Chen's daring escape from house arrest in April. Chen, who is blind, fled to the U.S. Embassy and set off a diplomatic tussle between Beijing and Washington that embarrassed the central government.

Xi was named party chief last month and will take over as state president next month.