China launches its Panchen Lama pick with interviews and fanfare. Columbia University’s Robert Barnett thinks this may undermine the Dalai Lama’s position as the preeminent spokesman for the Tibetan people. Barnett says:

He will never really replace the Dalai Lama, but his role confuses the picture and can gradually be used to weaken the Dalai Lama’s standing. . .

“I think [China’s] Panchen Lama is being built up very gradually as a public spokesman within the Tibetan Buddhist world.

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