- China’s vast territory and 1.4 billion population are governed in a hierarchical administrative system, but the division of powers is not always uniform.
About as big as the United States, China is home to more than four times more people than the American population.
Like America, China is divided into dozens of regions. How powers are shared between China’s central and regional governments is crucial to managing the country’s vast and populous territory.
The People’s Republic of China can be broken down into 33 regions, with different sets of powers and levels of oversight.
Most of these are known as provincial-level divisions and include nominally autonomous regions with large ethnic minority populations.
There are also the Special Administrative Regions covering the former European colonies of Hong Kong and Macau.
They have been promised “a high degree of autonomy” and a wide range of civil liberties not available in mainland China. However, fears in Hong Kong that these freedoms are being diminished have prompted intensive protests, and Beijing has increasingly taken a direct hand in the former British colony’s affairs.
Beijing also claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory, to be brought under its rule by force if necessary.
The provincial-level regions are then further divided into units such as cities, counties or districts, townships and villages.