NEW YORK, June 7 (UPI) -- A Tibet scholar says China is positioning itself to influence the selection the next Dalai Lama, which could result two rivals laying claim to the title.
Robert Barnett of Columbia University said in The New York Times Sunday Beijing is insisting the selection of the next Dalai Lama be held in Tibet, a territory it controls, which could elbow Tibetan exiles out of the process.
The exiles, the newspaper said, have been debating running the selection process themselves, which would likely result in one Dalai Lama based in Tibet and another living in exile.
"It's a huge but ultra-critical issue, with no clear outcome or solution except one: trouble," said Barnett. "It is going to end up with two Dalai Lamas and thus with long-running conflict, unless the Chinese agree to a diplomatic solution pretty soon."
The 74-year-old Dalai Lama has been somewhat noncommittal, saying that while he is open to a non-traditional selection he is also convinced the process should be based on religion regardless of the political implications.