Handbook of the Politics of China
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Handbook of the Politics of China

Edited by David S.G. Goodman

The Handbook of the Politics of China is a comprehensive resource introducing readers to the very latest in research on Chinese politics. David Goodman provides an introduction to the key structures and issues, providing the foundations on which later learning can be built. It contains four sections of new and original research, dealing with leadership and institutions, public policy, political economy and social change, and international relations and includes a comprehensive bibliography. Each of the 26 chapters has been written by an established authority in the field and each reviews the literature on the topic, and presents the latest findings of research. An essential primer for the study of China’s politics.
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Chapter 9: Administrative territory

Carolyn Cartier and Hu De


Administrative territory in China is the national system of administrative divisions or governing areas below the central government. The fundamental local level of government, the county, was established in the early dynastic era. The province, which defines common political maps of China, emerged in its modern form more than 700 years ago. The deep history and continuity of China’s administrative territories belie the reality that every dynasty and modern regime has made adjustments to the subnational territories, including periodic major changes, in relation to political interests and economic goals. Among the contemporary levels of territorial administration in China, province, prefecture, county and town or township, and village, the province is the main meso-level of administrative territory, whereas the county has served as the main unit of local government, social life and cultural identification over the longue durée. For these reasons, this chapter introduces the territorial administrative system especially in relation to the province and the county, and major changes to the county in relation to widespread urbanization since the 1980s.

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