City is one of the administrative divisions in China. It is usually divided into provincial municipalities, prefectural municipalities and county-level municipalities according to the level of administrative divisions. There are 4 municipalities directly under the Central Government, 293 prefecture-level cities and 381 county-level cities in mainland China.

Categories of Cities in China

China’s cities are divided into four categories: megalopolis with a non-agricultural population of more than 1 million; large cities with a non-agricultural population of 500,000 to 1 million; medium-sized cities with a non-agricultural population of 200,000 to 500,000; and small cities with a non-agricultural population of less than 200,000. The overall strategy of urban development in China is to “control the scale of big cities, develop medium-sized cities rationally and small towns actively”.

Administrative Classification of Cities in China

There are four cities with different administrative levels in China: municipalities directly under the Central Government (provincial level); prefectural level cities (including sub-provincial level cities); county level cities; county-controlled city (township level cities): referring to a township level administrative unit in Taiwan Province.


The municipality directly under the Central People’s Government refers to the mega-cities directly under the jurisdiction of the Central People’s Government, with a concentrated population and a particularly important position in political, economic and cultural fields. It is a first-level administrative region parallel to provinces and autonomous regions. There are four municipality directly under the Central People’s Government: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing, with districts and counties (autonomous counties).

Sub-provincial Cities

Sub-provincial cities refer to the mega-cities with more than one million people in urban areas, which occupy an important position in the national economy and enjoy sub-provincial treatment at the administrative level. The difference between sub-provincial cities and general cities is mainly reflected in the national economic and social development plan. The State Council and the State Planning Commission and other competent departments regard sub-provincial cities as provincial planning units. There are currently 15 sub-provincial cities in China: Harbin, Changchun, Shenyang, Dalian, Jinan, Qingdao, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wuhan, Xi’an and Chengdu.

Prefecture-level Cities

Most prefecture-level cities are administrative districts parallel to regions, autonomous prefectures and leagues. Generally, they can administer municipal districts, counties (autonomous counties), banners (autonomous banners) and county-level cities. Some prefecture-level cities do not have municipal districts or county or county-level cities, which are called “Zhitongzi City”.

County-level Cities

County-level cities are administrative districts parallel to municipal districts, counties, autonomous counties, banners, autonomous banners, forest districts and special zones. In order to give full play to the role of urban economic center, promote rural areas and realize mutual assistance between urban and rural areas, China has implemented City-Governing-County System twice: From 1958 to 1959, there were more than 50 cities governing about 240 counties; In December 1982, it was proposed to implement City-Governing-County in developed area.

China City Tours

Beijing, Xian and Shanghai city tours are the most essential parts of China city tour which will show you their glorious past and the modern present. What’s more, there are many cities well-known for their stunning natural scenery, profound traditional culture, ethnic customs, or delicate dishes, etc. No matter what kind of city you prefer, China Dragon Tours(CDT) will provide you best price with guaranteed service to realize your dreamlike city tours in China. In addition, all the recommended China city tour packages can be customized as your specific interests and needs.

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