Direct-controlled municipalities of China

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China municipalities numbered.svg
Category Unitary state
Location People's Republic of China
Number 4
Populations 12,938,224 (Tianjin) – 28,846,170 (Chongqing)
Areas 2,448.1 square miles (6,341 km2) (Shanghai) – 31,816 square miles (82,400 km2) (Chongqing)
Government Dual-Party Government
Subdivisions District, County, Autonomous County

A municipality (simplified Chinese: 直辖市; traditional Chinese: 直轄市; pinyin: zhíxiáshì), also translated as direct-controlled municipality (formally), municipality directly under the central government, or province-level municipality is the highest level 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: 省级; pinyin: shěngjí) power under an 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 & subdistricts), towns and villages. The larger municipality span over 100 kilometres (62 mi). To distinguish a "municipality" from its actual urban area (the traditional meaning of the word "city"), the term Chinese: 市区, or "urban area", 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 (特别市; 特別市; tébiéshì), but were later renamed Yuan-controlled municipalities (院辖市; 院轄市; yuànxiáshì), then direct-controlled municipalities (直辖市; 直轄市; 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 around the 1960s.

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 (直辖市; 直轄市; zhíxiáshì);
  2. Prefecture-level cities (地级市; 地級市; dìjíshì), including sub-provincial cities; and,
  3. County-level cities (县级市; 縣級市; 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 Pinyin Abbr. Population[7] Area (km²) Divisions City seat Origin Province
(split date)
Origin Prefecture Origin County
CN-11 Beijing 北京市 Běijīng Shì jīng 19,612,368 16,801 List (16 districts) Dongcheng
(Oct. 1949)
Shuntian Daxing
CN-12 Tianjin 天津市 Tiānjīn Shì jīn 12,938,224 11,760 List (15 districts & 1 county) Heping Hebei
(Jan. 1967)
Tianjin Tianjin
CN-31 Shanghai 上海市 Shànghǎi Shì 23,019,148 6,340 List (16 districts & 1 county) Huangpu Jiangsu
(Mar. 1927)
Songjiang Shanghai
CN-50 Chongqing 重庆市 Chóngqìng Shì 28,846,170
(City Core 16,240,026)
(City Core 6,268)
List (23 districts, 11 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 京都市 Jīngdū Shì jīng Dongcheng 1921–1927 Zhili
(present province: Hebei)
Shuntian Daxing
Jingu 津沽市 Jīngū Shì jīn Heping 1921–1927 Zhili
(present province: Hebei)
Tianjin Tianjin
Songhu 淞沪市 Sōnghù Shì Huangpu 1921–1927 Jiangsu Songjiang Shanghai
Qingdao 青岛市 Qīngdǎo Shì qīng Shinan 1921–1927, 1929–1949 Shandong Jiaozhou Jiao
Harbin 哈尔滨市 Hāerbīn Shì Nangang 1921–1927, 1947–1949, 1953–1954 Songjiang
(present province: Heilongjiang)
Binzhou Bin
Hankou 汉口市 Hànkǒu Shì hàn Jiang'an 1921–1927, 1929–1931, 1947–1949 Hubei Hanyang Hanyang
Wuxi 无锡市 Wúxī Shì Binhu 1921–1927 Jiangsu Changzhou Wuxi
Hangzhou 杭州市 Hángzhōu Shì háng Gongshu 1921–1927 Zhejiang Hangzhou Yuhang
Ningbo 宁波市 Níngbō Shì yǒng Jiangdong 1921–1927 Zhejiang Ningbo Yin
Anqing 安庆市 Ānqìng Shì ān Daguan 1921–1927 Anhui Anqing Huaining
Nanchang 南昌市 Nánchāng Shì hóng Donghu 1921–1927 Jiangxi Nanchang Nanchang
Wuchang 武昌市 Wǔchāng Shì Wuchang 1921–1927 Hubei Wuchang Jiangxia
Guangzhou 广州市 Guǎngzhōu Shì suì Yuexiu 1921–1927, 1930, 1947–1954 Guangdong Guangzhou Panyu
Wuzhou 梧州市 Wúzhōu Shì Changzhou 1921–1927 Guangxi Wuzhou Cangwu
Nanjing 南京市 Nánjīng Shì níng Xuanwu 1927–1952 Jiangsu Jiangning Jiangning
Xi'an 西安市 Xī'ān Shì hào Weiyang 1927–1954 Shaanxi Xi'an Chang'an
Wuhan 武汉市 Wǔhàn Shì hàn Jiang'an 1927–1929, 1949 Hubei Hanyang
Beiping 北平市 Jīngdū Shì píng Dongcheng 1928–1949 Zhili
(present province: Hebei)
Shuntian Daxing
Dalian 大连市 Dàlián Shì lián Xigang 1947–1949 Andong/Liaodong
(present province: Liaoning)
Jinzhou Ninghai
Shenyang 沈阳市 Shěnyáng Shì shěn Shenhe 1947–1954 Liaoxi
(present province: Liaoning)
Fengtian Fengtian
Anshan 鞍山市 Ānshān Shì ān Tiedong 1949–1954 Andong/Liaodong
(present province: Liaoning)
Liaoyang Haicheng
Benxi 本溪市 Běnxī Shì běn Pingshan 1949–1954 Andong/Liaodong
(present province: Liaoning)
Fengtian Benxi
Fushun 抚顺市 Fǔshùn Shì Xinfu 1949–1954 Andong/Liaodong
(present province: Liaoning)
Fengtian Fushun
Lüda 旅大市 Lǚdà Shì Xigang 1950–1954 Lüda
(present province: Liaoning)
Jinzhou Ninghai
Changchun 长春市 Chángchūn Shì chūn Nanguan 1953–1954 Jilin Changchun Changchun

See also


  1. "Local Governments". Chinese Government's Official Web Portal. Retrieved 10 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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. Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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. Retrieved July 19, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


es:Municipio bajo jurisdicción central zh-classical:直轄市 zh:直辖市