CHINA has decided to select its own reincarnation of the panchen lama, the second highest Tibetan religious leader, and to ignore the Dalai Lama's choice. Sources say senior lamas have been summoned to Beijing this month and told to prepare to hold a divination lottery using a golden urn. 'They were told the ceremony could be held soon, very soon, but no date has been set,' one source said. The lamas were apparently told Beijing would not include the boy proclaimed the new panchen lama by the Dalai Lama in May. 'This is what I have heard is likely, too. It means the Chinese are opting for confrontation,' said Robbie Barnett, editor of the Tibet Information Network in London. If Beijing does go ahead there will be two rival panchen lamas. Tibetans then will be faced with a painful choice of respecting the sacrosanct decision by their divine leader, the Dalai Lama, or flouting the temporal authority of China's rulers. Beijing claims only the central Government has the right to recognise new incarnations of high-ranking Tibetan lamas. It insists the Dalai Lama broke with tradition by not seeking the Government's prior consent and that he failed to follow the correct procedures in selecting the right candidate. The Communist Party condemned the Dalai Lama's choice as invalid and an 'evil plot'. It says he should have used a golden urn to conduct a lottery in which the names of candidates are written on pieces of paper hidden in balls. These are then shaken in the urn and the last ball to fall out holds the name of the true reincarnation. The Dalai Lama claims this method of divination is used as a last resort when all other methods have failed. A team to find candidates for the successor to the 10th panchen lama began work after his death in 1989 and had narrowed the choice down to three when its leader, the Abbot of Tashilunpo Monastery - the seat of the panchens - was detained this year. Beijing had been preparing to hold the urn ceremony in Lhasa when the Dalai Lama announced the results of his own mystical deliberations. The Abbot of Tashilunpo, the Chadrel Rinpoche, was immediately detained and is thought to be under house arrest in Chengdu. China has denied this and claims he is undergoing hospital treatment. More than 30 lamas and monks, suspected of collaborating with the Dalai Lama, have been detained. The leadership of the Tashilunpo Monastery was also replaced after the monks organised protests. China needs to find a senior and respected lama to conduct the ceremony and legitimise the choice, but has found this difficult. 'All the lamas have been trying to hide themselves by going on religious retreats, because they want no part of this,' a source said. Communist Party officials are determined to enforce obedience and are thought to have found some willing to conduct the ceremony. 'The lamas are praying that when President Bill Clinton meets President Jiang Zemin [next Tuesday], he will intervene on their behalf and stop this crisis from deepening,' a source said. The future of the Dalai Lama's choice, six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, is now uncertain. Some believe he is being held in Beijing and fear he might never be freed because otherwise Beijing's own candidate would never gain any acceptance. Tibetans fear the Chinese have decided it is worth stirring opposition if they can sow dissension by supporting a rival panchen lama. As long as the Dalai Lama remains in exile, the position of the panchen lama carries great influence. In the long term, the issue has still larger implications. According to Tibetan tradition, when the current incarnation, who is 60, dies, the new panchen lama would act as tutor of the 15th dalai lama.