AS China launched celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, it showed every sign of having mishandled the latest crisis in Tibet. The Communist Party has blundered into a dispute with the Dalai Lama by claiming it better understands the divination practices involved in the search for a new reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second ranking Tibetan leader after the Dalai Lama. A senior Communist Party official yesterday denied reports of widespread unrest in Tibet after Beijing attacked the Dalai Lama's recognition of the reincarnation three months ago as an 'evil plot'. Angry monks in the Tashilunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchens, have instigated protests to demand recognition of the six-year-old boy - Gedhum Choekyi Nyima - who was born on April 25, 1989, in a rural district about 500 kilometres northeast of Lhasa. The Dalai Lama's Government has alleged that China is holding the boy in Beijing and has arrested the Chadrel Rinpoche, the Abbot of the Tashilunpo Monastery who was in charge of the search, accusing him of conspiring with the Dalai Lama in India. Party officials yesterday refused to provide any details of the whereabouts of the boy or the Lama, only saying that they were in good health. However an official from the party's United Front Department denied that the Chadrel Rinpoche was being detained and insisted that he was suffering from an unspecified illness and had been in hospital since May. 'I can't say where he is but he is in good shape and his health conditions are getting better,' an official said. A senior official yesterday declined to confirm that China would not recognise the boy or when it intended to mount a new search for alternative candidates. He blamed the delay on 'meddling' by the Dalai Lama. China has insisted that the Dalai Lama broke ancient Tibetan traditions by making his own selection without using the required ceremonial golden urn and by announcing his choice without obtaining Beijing's agreement. The exiled Tibetan leader has denied that prior approval of Beijing was required or that he failed to carry out the correct divination procedures. China now appears to be seeking a way of accepting the Dalai Lama's choice without losing too much face. A party official refused to say whether the urn ceremony would be held and hinted that it might not be necessary. 'If there is only one candidate then there can be a waiver,' he said. He also said Beijing might wait a long time before recognising the reincarnation.