By Jianli Yang & Lianchao Han

As the Dalai Lama turns 85, the Chinese Communist Party is stepping up its plans to control the selection of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s successor. The kidnapping of the six-year-old Panchen Lama and his family 25 years ago shows how far it is prepared to go.

On July 6, the Tibetan spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, celebrates his 85th birthday. On November 29 of last year, at the conclusion of the 14th Tibetan Religious Conference in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama is based, he said “I am physically very healthy and joyful,” indicating that he was in no hurry to look for his successor.

But China is in a hurry. The ruling Communist Party has been stepping up preparations to attempt to control the process of selecting the successor of the Dalai Lama. Its efforts can be traced back to the dispute over the reincarnation of another Tibetan spiritual leader, the Panchen Lama. [continue reading]