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Location People's Republic of China
Number4 (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin)
Populations21,893,095 (Beijing)
32,054,159 (Chongqing)
24,870,895 (Shanghai)
13,866,009 (Tianjin)
AreasBeijing – 16,410 km2 (6,336.1 sq mi)
Chongqing – 82,400 km2 (31,816 sq mi)
Shanghai – 6,340 km2 (2,448 sq mi)
Tianjin – 11,950 km2 (4,612 sq mi)
  • District, county, autonomous county

A direct-administrated municipality (Chinese: 直辖市; pinyin: Zhíxiáshì), commonly known as municipality,[1] is one of four types of province-level divisions of China. It is the highest level of classification for cities used by the People's Republic of China.

A municipality is a "city" (Chinese: ; pinyin: Shì) with "provincial" (Chinese: 省级; pinyin: Shěngjí) power under a unified jurisdiction. As such, it is simultaneously a city and a province in 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: 市区) 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 under the Republic of 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; tèbiéshì), 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, which became a municipality of its own. Hence, there remained 12 municipalities. In November 1952, Nanjing was reduced to a provincial municipality.[3] In March 1953, Lüda, which had resulted from the merger of Dalian and Lüshun in December 1950, was made a municipality. In July 1953, Harbin was restored to municipality status, whereas Changchun acquired that status for the first time.[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 and 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 (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 Hanyu 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) Tongzhou Hebei
(Oct. 1949)
Shuntian Daxing
CN-12 Tianjin 天津市 Tiānjīn Shì jīn 12,938,224 11,760 List (16 districts) Hexi Hebei
(Jan. 1967)
Tianjin Tianjin
CN-31 Shanghai 上海市 Shànghǎi Shì 23,019,148 6,340 List (16 districts) 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 (26 districts, 8 counties, & 4 autonomous counties)
(City Core: 19 districts)
Yuzhong Sichuan
(May 1997)
Chongqing Ba


Name Executive Legislature
Government CCP Party Chief Mayor City Council No. of seats
Beijing Beijing Municipal People's Government Cai Qi Chen Jining Beijing Municipal People's Congress 755
Chongqing Chongqing Municipal People's Government Chen Min'er Tang Liangzhi Chongqing Municipal People's Congress 860
Shanghai Shanghai Municipal People's Government Chen Jining Gong Zheng Shanghai Municipal People's Congress 855
Tianjin Tianjin Municipal People's Government Li Hongzhong Liao Guoxun Tianjin Municipal People's Congress 706

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 Hārbīn 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 Yinzhou 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. ^ "Administrative Division". Retrieved 2021-07-21.
  2. ^ [1] Archived March 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ [2] Archived March 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ [3] Archived March 19, 2009, 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 February 21, 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 July 19, 2011.