Large Community (China)

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Administrative division of
the People's Republic of China

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Provincial level
Autonomous regions
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District level
Immediate provincial administrative zones
District-free cities
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District level
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Community level
Street district
Large municipalities
Nationality communities
Nationalities sum
District offices
Village level
Communities of residents

A large municipality ( Chinese    /  , Pinyin zhèn ) is an administrative unit at the municipality level in the People's Republic of China . At this level there are currently 40,497 units (December 31, 2013), of which 20,117 are large municipalities (49.68%), which therefore have the largest share at this level. Large municipalities are comparable to the English town .

The municipality level follows in the administrative structure of the People's Republic of China under the county level (districts, banners, autonomous counties, autonomous banners, cities, urban districts, etc.).


The expression zhèn  /  , literally "to hold down", is used for the first time in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-535) as an administrative term, at that time in the sense of "garrison with civilian population working mainly to supply the soldiers in the surrounding area"; the garrison commander ( 鎮 都 大將  /  镇 都 大将 , zhèndū dàjiàng ) also had jurisdiction over the civilian population. At that time such fortified settlements were only built on the imperial borders, especially in the north, where there was a conflict with the Rouran Federation , and in the south, where the empire was oppressed by Han Chinese small states (the upper class of the Northern Wei itself consisted of Sinized Tabgatsch nomads).

At the beginning of the Tang Dynasty (618–907), the troops stationed on the border were reduced. Now the local commandant ( 方 鎮  /  方 镇 , fāngzhèn ) was only responsible for his men, the civilian population was subordinate to the district administrator of the respective district . From the middle of the 8th century garrisons were gradually set up inland, with greatly expanded competencies for the commander, now known as the "military commissioner" ( 節 都 使  /  节 都 使 , jiédūshǐ ). In the Song Dynasty (960–1279), when life in China became increasingly unsafe due to the incursions of the Kitan , Jurchen and Mongols , more and more civilians began to pull behind the protective walls of the garrisons, which became walled towns with several thousand Inhabitants developed.

With the "Regulations for local self-government of cities, large communities and municipalities" ( 城鎮 鄉 地方自治 章程  /  城镇 乡 地方自治 章程 , chéng zhèn xiāng dìfāng zìzhì zhāngchéng ) issued by the Qing government on January 18, 1909, a separation took place held by the military. In the said statutes it was stipulated that in rural areas for every 50,000 inhabitants a large community should be established (if it did not already exist), regardless of whether troops were stationed there or not, which deliberates in its own political representation that is independent of the district government carry out and take decisions and manage itself in local matters. The population of a large municipality has remained about the same until today. At the end of 2013, of the then 20,117 large communities, only 56 had a population of more than 100,000, most of them in the Pearl River Delta and the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang in the Yangtze Delta .


Since the 1980s, more and more municipalities (  /  , xiāng ) have become the center of settlement due to their increased population and a certain degree of urbanization under the motto "The municipality becomes a large municipality" ( 鄉 改 鎮  /  乡 改 镇 , xiāng gǎi zhèn ) converted into large parishes. In 1986 there were 61,415 communities and 10,717 large communities in the People's Republic of China, at the end of 2016 there were 10,872 communities and 20,883 large communities.


  • Meyer's Atlas China. On the way to world power. Bibliographisches Institut AG, Mannheim 2010, ISBN 978-3-411-08281-0 , pp. 92-93.

Individual evidence

  1. 谭 其 骧 (主编) :简明 中国 历史 地图集.中国 地图 出版社 , 北京 1996 (第二 次 印刷), map 29–30.
  2. 罗 竹 风 (主编) :汉语大词典.第六卷. 汉语大词典 出版社, 上海 1994 (第二 次 印刷), p. 1571f.
  3. ^ Charles O. Hucker: A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China. Stanford University Press , Stanford 1985, p. 121.
  4. 罗 竹 风 (主编) :汉语大词典.第十一 卷. 汉语大词典 出版社, 上海 1994 (第二 次 印刷), p. 1360f.
  8. . This concentration process is not without controversy. For a discussion, see this article in the Chinese "Wirtschaftswoche" (财经 国家 周刊) Internet edition, published by the state news agency New China :