Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top leaders today discussed steps for stability in Tibet to contain "anti-separatism battle" as the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) hardened its stand against the Dalai Lama, saying China's consent is important in the appointment of his successor.

"Safeguarding national unity and strengthening ethnic unity should be highlighted in work involving Tibet," a statement issued after the meeting of the Politburo of the CPC headed by President Xi said.

"Efforts should be made to unswervingly carry out the anti-separatism battle, promote the region's economic and social development, safeguard and improve people's welfare, and enhance exchanges and integration of different ethnic groups," it said.

The leaders agreed that strengthening Tibetan infrastructure, helping it foster competitive industries while ensuring environmental protection are the means to achieve marked improvement in living conditions and more social cohesion, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

They said they would maintain national religious policies and promote patriotism in Tibet.

Despite massive development in the Himalayan region, Buddhism remained integral part of Tibetans' lives.

According to overseas Tibet groups, over 120 Tibetans committed self immolations in recent years calling for the return of the Dalai Lama from his exile.

Today's meeting followed a strong reaction to 80-year-old Dalai Lama's assertions in an interview to the New York Times that he would hold some kind of referendum among Tibetan exiles and consultations among Tibetans within China about whether a new Dalai Lama should succeed him.

"The 14th Dalai Lama has been talking about his reincarnation as though the centuries-old system is his personal matter," Xinhua said in a commentary on July 19.

"The authority of the central government has always been important in the reincarnation process. Historical precedents have clearly shown the central government's vital role in the process.

"Since then, all confirmations of the Dalai Lama have required approval by the central Chinese government, which has deemed the process an important issue concerning sovereignty and national security," it said.

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