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Administrative divisions
of the People's Republic
of China
This article is part of the
Political divisions of China
series
Province level
Provinces
Autonomous regions
Municipalities
Special Administrative
Regions (SARs)
History of its political divisions
Prefecture level
Prefectures
Autonomous prefectures
Prefecture-level cities
Sub-provincial cities
Leagues
County level
Counties
Autonomous counties
County-level cities
Sub-prefecture-level cities
City districts
Banners
Autonomous banners
Township level
Townships (ethnic)
Sumu (ethnic)
Towns
Subdistricts
County districts
(defunct)
Village level
Villages
Neighborhoods

The term district, in the context of China, is used to refer to several unrelated political divisions in both ancient and modern China.

In the modern context, districts (simplified Chinese: traditional Chinese: Hanyu Pinyin: Tongyong Pinyin: cyu) refer to two types of divisions in the People's Republic of China: city districts and the soon-to-be-phased-out county districts (also known as district public offices).

However, if the word "district" is encountered in the context of ancient Chinese history, then it is a translation for xian, another type of administrative division in China.

Contents

People's Republic of China

City districts

A city district (市辖区, pinyin: shìxiáqū, lit. a city-governed district) is a subdivision of a municipality or a prefecture-level city. The rank of a district derives from the rank of its city. Districts of a municipality are prefecture-level; districts of a sub-provincial city are sub-prefecture-level; and districts of a prefecture-level city are county-level.

Before the 1980s, cities in the People's Republic of China were administrative divisions containing mostly urban, built-up areas, with very little farmland, except for the immediate suburbs in order to ensure a large supply of food or raw materials. As a result, districts were also mostly urban or suburban in nature.

After the 1980s, prefectures began to be replaced with prefecture-level cities. From then on, "cities" in mainland China became just like any other administrative division, containing urban areas, towns, villages, and farmland. These cities are subdivided into districts, counties, autonomous counties, and county-level cities. At the same time, counties and county-level cities began to be replaced with districts, especially after 1990. From then onwards, districts were no longer just urban entities — some districts today are just like counties, with towns and townships under them governing rural areas.

county-controlled district

A county district, also known as a district public office (区公所), was once an important subdivision of a county all over China from 1950s to 1990s. It was common for there to be about 5 to 10 districts in a county, then about 3 to 5 towns and townships in a district. After the 1990s, county districts began to be phased out, and their role was taken over by larger towns and townships created by merging smaller ones.

At the end of 2005, there are just 11 district public offices left in China, with 1 in Hebei and 10 in Xinjiang.

See Political divisions of China for how these two types of districts fit into the general administrative hierarchy of mainland China.

Ancient sense

If the word "district" is encountered in the context of ancient Chinese history, then the word is a translation for xian, another type of administrative division in China.

Xian has been translated using several English language terms. In the context of ancient history, "district" and "prefecture" are commonly used, while "county" is used for more contemporary contexts.

See County of China for more information on the xian of China.

See also








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