Direct-administered Municipalities of China
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Direct-administered Municipalities of China

China municipalities numbered.svg
CategoryFirst-level administration
Unitary state
LocationPeople's Republic of China
Number4 (#1 Beijing; #2 Tianjin; #3 Chongqing; #4 Shanghai)
Populations12,938,224 (Tianjin)
28,846,170 (Chongqing)
21.7 million (2016) (Beijing)
24.15 million (2016) (Shanghai)
Areas6,341 km2 (2,448.1 sq mi) (Shanghai) - 82,400 km2 (31,816 sq mi) (Chongqing)
SubdivisionsDistrict, county, autonomous county

A municipality (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: zhíxiáshì; lit.: 'direct-controlled city'), formally a municipality under the direct administration of central government, is the highest level of classification for cities used by the People's Republic of China. These cities have the same rank as provinces, and form part of the first tier of administrative divisions of China.

A municipality is a "city" (Chinese: ?; pinyin: shì) with "provincial" (Chinese: ; pinyin: sh?ngjí) power under a unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city and a province of its own right.

A municipality is often not a "city" in the usual sense of the term (i.e., a large continuous urban settlement), but instead an administrative unit comprising, typically, a main central urban area (a city in the usual sense, usually with the same name as the municipality), and its much larger surrounding rural area containing many smaller cities (districts and subdistricts), towns and villages. The larger municipality spans over 100 kilometres (62 mi). To distinguish a "municipality" from its actual urban area (the traditional meaning of the word city), the term "urban area" (Chinese: ) is used.


The first municipalities were the 11 cities of Nanjing, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao, Chongqing, Xi'an, Guangzhou, Hankou (now part of Wuhan), Shenyang, and Harbin when the ROC government ruled China. They were established in 1927 soon after they were designated as "cities" during the 1920s. Nominally, Dalian was a municipality as well, although it was under Japanese control. These cities were first called special municipalities/cities (; ; tèbiéshì), but were later renamed Yuan-controlled municipalities (; ; yuànxiáshì), then direct-controlled municipalities (; ; zhíxiáshì) by the Central Government.

After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Anshan, Benxi, and Fushun were also made municipalities, while Qingdao, Dalian, and Harbin were reduced to provincial municipalities.[2] Hankou was merged into Wuhan. Hence, there remained 12 municipalities, until Dalian was elevated in 1950. In November 1952, Nanjing was reduced to a provincial municipality.[3] In July 1953, Harbin was restored to municipality status, along with Changchun.[4] Except Beijing and Tianjin, which were under central control, all other municipalities were governed by the greater administrative areas.

In June 1954, 11 of the 14 municipalities were reduced to sub-provincial cities; many of them became capitals of the provinces they were in. Only Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin remained municipalities, until Chongqing was restored as a municipality in 1997 with a much enlarged area. Tianjin was also temporarily reverted to sub-provincial city status between 1958-1967.

Position in hierarchy

Municipalities are the highest-ranked cities in the PRC. Some cities of lower levels may also refer to themselves as municipalities in the English language.

Three levels of cities in the People's Republic of China:

  1. Municipalities (; ; zhíxiáshì);
  2. Prefecture-level cities (; ; dìjíshì), including sub-provincial cities; and,
  3. County-level cities (; ; xiànjíshì), including sub-prefecture-level cities.


In municipalities, the highest ranking government official is the Mayor. The mayor is also a delegate in the National People's Congress (the legislature)[5] and Deputy Secretary of the CPC Municipal Committee. However, the highest administrative authority in the municipality belongs to the Secretary of the CPC Municipal Committee or Party Secretary.

Current PRC municipalities

ISO[6] Division name Simplified Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Abbr. Population[7] Area (km²) Divisions City seat Origin Province
(split date)
Origin Prefecture Origin County
CN-11 Beijing B?ij?ng Shì ? j?ng 19,612,368 16,801 List (16 districts) Dongcheng
(Oct. 1949)
Shuntian Daxing
CN-12 Tianjin Ti?nj?n Shì ? j?n 12,938,224 11,760 List (16 districts) Heping Hebei
(Jan. 1967)
Tianjin Tianjin
CN-31 Shanghai Shàngh?i Shì ? 23,019,148 6,340 List (16 districts) Huangpu Jiangsu
(Mar. 1927)
Songjiang Shanghai
CN-50 Chongqing Chóngqìng Shì ? 28,846,170
(City Core 16,240,026)
(City Core 6,268)
List (26 districts, 8 counties, & 4 autonomous counties)
(City Core: 19 districts)
Yuzhong Sichuan
(May 1997)
Chongqing Ba

Former ROC and PRC municipalities

Name Simplified Chinese Pinyin Abbr. City seat Administration period Original province Original prefecture Original county
Jingdu J?ngd? Shì ? j?ng Dongcheng 1921-1927 Zhili
(present province: Hebei)
Shuntian Daxing
Jingu J?ng? Shì ? j?n Heping 1921-1927 Zhili
(present province: Hebei)
Tianjin Tianjin
Songhu S?nghù Shì ? Huangpu 1921-1927 Jiangsu Songjiang Shanghai
Qingdao Q?ngd?o Shì ? q?ng Shinan 1921-1927, 1929-1949 Shandong Jiaozhou Jiao
Harbin ? H?rb?n Shì ? h? Nangang 1921-1927, 1947-1949, 1953-1954 Songjiang
(present province: Heilongjiang)
Binzhou Bin
Hankou Hànk?u Shì ? hàn Jiang'an 1921-1927, 1929-1931, 1947-1949 Hubei Hanyang Hanyang
Wuxi Wúx? Shì ? x? Binhu 1921-1927 Jiangsu Changzhou Wuxi
Hangzhou Hángzh?u Shì ? háng Gongshu 1921-1927 Zhejiang Hangzhou Yuhang
Ningbo Níngb? Shì ? y?ng Yinzhou 1921-1927 Zhejiang Ningbo Yin
Anqing ?nqìng Shì ? ?n Daguan 1921-1927 Anhui Anqing Huaining
Nanchang Nánch?ng Shì ? hóng Donghu 1921-1927 Jiangxi Nanchang Nanchang
Wuchang W?ch?ng Shì ? w? Wuchang 1921-1927 Hubei Wuchang Jiangxia
Guangzhou Gu?ngzh?u Shì ? suì Yuexiu 1921-1927, 1930, 1947-1954 Guangdong Guangzhou Panyu
Wuzhou Wúzh?u Shì ? Changzhou 1921-1927 Guangxi Wuzhou Cangwu
Nanjing Nánj?ng Shì ? níng Xuanwu 1927-1952 Jiangsu Jiangning Jiangning
Xi'an X?'?n Shì ? hào Weiyang 1927-1954 Shaanxi Xi'an Chang'an
Wuhan W?hàn Shì ? hàn Jiang'an 1927-1929, 1949 Hubei Hanyang
Beiping J?ngd? Shì ? píng Dongcheng 1928-1949 Zhili
(present province: Hebei)
Shuntian Daxing
Dalian Dàlián Shì ? lián Xigang 1947-1949 Andong/Liaodong
(present province: Liaoning)
Jinzhou Ninghai
Shenyang Sh?nyáng Shì ? sh?n Shenhe 1947-1954 Liaoxi
(present province: Liaoning)
Fengtian Fengtian
Anshan ?nsh?n Shì ? ?n Tiedong 1949-1954 Andong/Liaodong
(present province: Liaoning)
Liaoyang Haicheng
Benxi B?nx? Shì ? b?n Pingshan 1949-1954 Andong/Liaodong
(present province: Liaoning)
Fengtian Benxi
Fushun F?shùn Shì ? f? Xinfu 1949-1954 Andong/Liaodong
(present province: Liaoning)
Fengtian Fushun
Lüda L?dà Shì ? l? Xigang 1950-1954 Lüda
(present province: Liaoning)
Jinzhou Ninghai
Changchun Chángch?n Shì ? ch?n Nanguan 1953-1954 Jilin Changchun Changchun

See also


  1. ^ "Local Governments". Chinese Government's Official Web Portal. Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ [1] Archived March 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ [2] Archived March 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ [3] Archived June 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Chongqing Mayor: Government Must Place Service Above Anything Else". Xinhua News Agency. March 3, 2003. Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved 2011.
  6. ^ ISO 3166-2:CN (ISO 3166-2 codes for the provinces of China)
  7. ^ "Communiqué of the National Bureau of Statistics of People's Republic of China on Major Figures of the 2010 Population Census (No. 1)". National Bureau of Statistics of China. April 28, 2011. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved 2011.

External links

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