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Mainland China
中国大陆 / 中國大陸[I]
The geopolitical term "mainland China" (the highlighted area as shown above) defined as territories under direct administration of the People's Republic of China, including islands of Hainan and Zhoushan etc.
The geopolitical term "mainland China" (the highlighted area as shown above) defined as territories under direct administration of the People's Republic of China, including islands of Hainan and Zhoushan etc.
Largest cities
Official languageStandard Chinese
Ethnic groups
see Ethnic groups in China
• Total
9,596,961 km2 (3,705,407 sq mi)
• 2019 census
• Density
147/km2 (380.7/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard Time)
Driving sideright
Calling code+86
ISO 3166 codeCN
Internet TLD
Today part ofPeople's Republic of China
Mainland China
Simplified Chinese中国大陆
Traditional Chinese中國大陸
Literal meaningContinental China
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese中国
Traditional Chinese中國
Literal meaningInland China
Mainland Area of the Republic of China
Simplified Chinese中华民国大陆地区
Traditional Chinese中華民國大陸地區

"Mainland China", also referred to as "the Chinese mainland", is a geopolitical term defined as the territory under direct administration of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War. In addition to the geographical mainland, the geopolitical sense of the term includes islands such as Hainan, Chongming, and Zhoushan.[1] By convention, territories outside of mainland China include:

In Taiwan it is also often used to refer to all territories administered by the PRC.[3][4][5] The term is widely used in all of the above territories as well as internationally, including by many Overseas Chinese communities.


In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People's Liberation Army had largely defeated the Kuomintang (KMT)'s National Revolutionary Army in the Chinese Civil War. This forced the Kuomintang to relocate the government and institution of the Republic of China to the relative safety of Taiwan, an island which was placed under its control after the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II in 1945. With the establishment of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the CCP-controlled government saw itself as the sole legitimate government of China,[6] competing with the claims of the Republic of China, whose authority is now limited to Taiwan and other islands. This resulted in a situation in which two co-existing governments competed for international legitimacy and recognition as the "government of China". With the democratisation of Taiwan in the 1990s and the rise of the Taiwanese independence movement, some people began simply using the term "China" instead.[7]

Due to their status as colonies of foreign states during the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the phrase "mainland China" excludes Hong Kong and Macau.[8] Since the return of Hong Kong and Macau to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 and 1999, respectively, the two territories have retained their legal, political, and economic systems. The territories also have their distinct identities. Therefore, "mainland China" generally continues to exclude these territories, because of the "one country, two systems" policy adopted by the Chinese government towards the regions.[9] The term is also used in economic indicators, such as the IMD Competitiveness Report. International news media often use "China" to refer only to mainland China or the People's Republic of China.

Political use

People's Republic of China

The Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China (Chinese: 中华人民共和国出境入境管理法) defines two terms in Chinese that are translated to "mainland":[10]

In the PRC, usage of the two terms is not strictly interchangeable. To emphasise the One-China policy and not give the ROC "equal footing" in cross-strait relations, the term must be used in PRC's official contexts with reference to Taiwan (with the PRC referring to itself as the "mainland side" dealing with the "Taiwan side"). In fact, the PRC government mandates that journalists use “Taiwan” and “the Mainland” (Dàlù) as corresponding concepts.[12]

But in terms of Hong Kong and Macau, the PRC government refers to itself as "the Central People's Government".[13] In the People's Republic of China, the term 内地 (Nèidì, 'inland') is often contrasted with the term 境外 ('outside the border') for things outside the mainland region.[14] Examples include "Administration of Foreign-funded Banks" (中华人民共和国外资银行管理条例; 中華人民共和國外資銀行管理條例) or the "Measures on Administration of Representative Offices of Foreign Insurance Institutions" (外国保险机构驻华代表机构管理办法; 外國保險機構駐華代表機構管理辦法).[9]

Hainan is an island, but is nevertheless commonly considered to be part of the "mainland" politically, because its government, legal and political systems do not differ from the rest of the PRC. Nonetheless, Hainanese people still refer to the geographic mainland as "the mainland" and call its residents "mainlanders".[15][better source needed]

Before 1949, the Kinmen and Matsu islands, were jointly governed with the rest of Fujian Province under successive Chinese governments. The two territories are generally considered to belong to the same historical region, Fujian Province, which has been divided since 1949 as a result of the civil war. However, because they are not controlled by the PRC, they are not included as part of "mainland China."

Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong and Macau are both territories of the PRC. However, due to the One Country, Two Systems policy, the two regions maintain a high degree of autonomy, hence they are not governed as part of mainland China.

Geologically speaking, Hong Kong and Macau are both connected to mainland China in certain areas (e.g. the north of the New Territories). Additionally, the islands contained within Hong Kong (e.g. Hong Kong Island) and Macau are much closer to mainland China than Taiwan and Hainan, and are much smaller.

In Hong Kong and Macau, the terms "mainland China" and "mainlander" are frequently used for people from PRC-governed areas (i.e. not Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau). The Chinese term Neidi (內地), meaning the inland but still translated mainland in English, is commonly applied by SAR governments to represent non-SAR areas of PRC, including Hainan province and coastal regions of mainland China, such as "Constitutional and Mainland Affairs" (政制及內地事務局)[16] and Immigration Departments.[17] In the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (as well as the Mainland and Macau Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) the CPG also uses the Chinese characters 内地 "inner land", with the note that they refer to the "customs territory of China".[18]

Taiwan (Republic of China)

The ROC map shown as of May 1979 in the Sixth Session of the First National Assembly

References to the PRC and other lost continental territories as the mainland began appearing in Taiwan state documents as early as 1954.[19][20][21]

Legal definitions followed in the 1990s. The 1991 Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China stated that "the handling of people's rights and obligations and other affairs between the free area and the mainland can be specially stipulated by law", and used the legal term "mainland area" without defining its geographical boundaries.[22] The 1992 Regulations on the Relations between the People in Taiwan and the Mainland defined "Taiwan" as areas controlled by the ROC and "mainland" as "the territory of the Republic of China."[23] The related Cross-Strait Act called those under PRC jurisdiction - excluding those in Hong Kong and Macau - as "people of the mainland area", and used "free area of the Republic of China" to describe areas under ROC control.[24] The issue on the mainland's territory also stated in the Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 328 in 1993.[3][25] In 2012, the Supreme Court of the Republic of China's judgment #900 labeled the Macao Special Administrative Region as the "Mainland's Macau Area".[26] The 2002 amendments to the Implementation Rules of the Regulations on People Relations between Taiwan and Mainland China defined the mainland as areas claimed but not controlled by the ROC, corresponding to "areas under control of the Chinese Communists" (within the de facto borders of the People's Republic of China).[1][27][28]

Views of the term "mainland China" (中國大陸) vary on Taiwan. During the Dangguo era, the KMT had previously referred to the territories under the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by several different names, e.g. "(territory controlled by the) Communist bandits", "occupied/unfree area (of China)", "Communist China" (as opposed to either "Nationalist China" or "Democratic China"), "Red China" (as opposed to "Blue China"), and "mainland China (area)".[29] In modern times, many of these terms have fallen out of use. The terms "mainland China" (中國大陸) or "the mainland" (大陸) still remain in popular use, but some also simply use the term "China" (中國). The former term is generally preferred by the Pan-Blue Coalition led by the KMT, while the latter term is preferred by the Pan-Green Coalition led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which opposes the term "mainland" and its suggestion that Taiwan is part of China. This has caused many political debates.[30][31]

Other terms

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Other geography-related terms which are used to avoid mentioning the political status of the PRC and ROC.

Pinyin Jyutping Hokkien POJ Description
海峡两岸 海峽兩岸 Hǎixiá liǎng'àn Hoi2 haap6 loeng5 ngon6 Hái-kiap lióng-gān The physical shores on both sides of the straits, may be translated as "two shores".
两岸关系 兩岸關係 liǎng'àn guānxì loeng5 ngon6 gwaan1 hai6 lióng-gān koan-hē Reference to the Taiwan Strait (cross-Strait relations, literally "relations between the two sides/shores [of the Strait of Taiwan]").
两岸三地 兩岸三地 liǎng'àn sāndì loeng5 ngon6 saam1 dei6 lióng-gān sam-tè An extension of this is the phrase "two shores, three places", with "three places" meaning mainland China, Taiwan, and either Hong Kong or Macau.
两岸四地 兩岸四地 liǎng'àn sìdì loeng5 ngon6 sei3 dei6 lióng-gān sù-tè When referring to either Hong Kong or Macau, or "two shores, four places" when referring to both Hong Kong and Macau.

See also


  1. ^



  1. ^ a b "Laws and Regulations Regarding Mainland Affairs". Mainland Affairs Council. Retrieved 30 May 2018. Article 3: The enforcement areas of Subparagraph 2 of Article 2 of the Act shall refer to areas under control of the Chinese Communists.
  2. ^ "中央流行疫情指揮中心1月28日宣布提升中國大陸(不含港澳)之旅遊疫情建議至第三級『警告』(Warning),大陸委員會調升湖北省(包含武漢市)的旅遊警示燈號為「紅色」,中國大陸其他地區旅遊警示燈號為「橙色」". 10 July 2017. Archived from the original on 2021-06-09. Retrieved 2021-05-28.
  3. ^ a b "No.328". cons.judicial.gov.tw. Archived from the original on 2022-07-23. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  4. ^ "2月6日起全中國大陸(含港澳)列二級以上流行地區,居住中國大陸各省市陸人暫緩入境". Ministry of Health and Welfare (Taiwan) (in Traditional Chinese). 疾病管制署. Archived from the original on 2020-03-31. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  5. ^ "有關中國大陸「國家情報法(草案)」新聞參考資料". Mainland Affairs Council (in Chinese (Taiwan)). Retrieved 2017-06-26. 中國大陸人大網於106年5月16日公布了「中華人民共和國國家情報法(草案)」
  6. ^ Jeshurun, Chandran, ed. (1993). China, India, Japan and the Security of Southeast Asia. Singapore: ISEAS. p. 146. ISBN 9813016612.
  7. ^ "為何陸生希望自己被稱內地?使用中國、內地、大陸等詞彙前,你懂背後的意識形態?". The Storm Media. 17 May 2018. Archived from the original on 9 February 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2022. 綠軍所用的正式名稱,尊重獨立國體的一種正式稱呼,這種稱呼本身也不帶有任何敵意,敵意存在與否其實代表著內戰是否結束,在稱呼上特別要小心
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  14. ^ "Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. Legalisation of Documents. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
  15. ^ 海南人为什么喜欢叫外省人叫大陆人?. wenwen.sogou.com. Archived from the original on 7 March 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
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  18. ^ English Text Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine Chinese text Archived 2011-07-07 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ 司法院. "解释字號:释字第31号". 司法院法學資料檢索系統判解函釋 (in Traditional Chinese). 台北. Archived from the original on 2020-12-07. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
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  25. ^ "香港澳門關係條例施行細則". 法源法律网. Archived from the original on 2020-10-10. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
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  27. ^ "臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例施行細則". 法務部全國法規資料庫. Archived from the original on 2022-04-03. Retrieved 2021-01-11. 中共控制之地區
  28. ^ 邱政宗 (March 1991). "中華民國立法院法制局研究成果《外蒙古定位後續問題評析》".[dead link]
  29. ^ "台灣小學課本裡的「共匪」(管仁健/著)". Archived from the original on 2009-03-27. Retrieved 2019-11-10.
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  31. ^ DPP is firm on China name issue Archived 2021-05-08 at the Wayback Machine. Taipei Times (2013-07-14). Retrieved on 2013-07-21.