The Chinese Communist Party leadership is considering reserving at least two Politburo seats for cadres from the central and western parts of the country.
A Beijing source said this would serve to pacify the less well-off provinces - and to boost control over areas with ethnic minorities.
More than a quarter of the Politburo's 21 full and alternate members are due to retire later this year. The only regional representatives - Shanghai's Huang Ju and Guangdong's Xie Fei - come from the prosperous southeast.
It is understood one proposal to narrow the gap between the coast and hinterland suggests giving the fast-developing inner regions a voice on the Politburo.
For example, the party secretary of the directly administered city of Chongqing, to be appointed in March, is likely to be inducted into the party's highest decision-making body.
But the Politburo is also weighing a proposal whereby the status of party secretaries of Xinjiang and Tibet will be upgraded - and at least one will be given Politburo membership.
'If the party boss of Xinjiang or Tibet is a Politburo member, he will have enough authority to quickly mobilise soldiers, police and other forces to quell separatist movements,' the Beijing source said.
On several occasions, he said, action against the 'pro-independence plots' had been delayed because the two party secretaries lacked the power to make on-the-spot decisions.
This proposal reportedly enjoys the support of the Politburo Standing Committee member in charge of personnel, Hu Jintao , once party boss of Tibet.