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China's Administrative Division System

China's administrative units are currently based on a three-tier system, dividing the nation into provinces, counties and townships:

The country is divided into provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government;

A province or an autonomous region is subdivided into autonomous prefectures, counties, autonomous counties and cities;

A county or an autonomous county is subdivided into townships, ethnic townships and towns.

Municipalities directly under the Central Government and large cities are subdivided into districts and counties; autonomous prefectures are subdivided into counties, autonomous counties and cities. Autonomous regions, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties are all ethnic autonomous areas. The Constitution specifically empowers the state to establish special administrative regions when necessary. A special administrative region is a local administrative area directly under the Central Government.

The People's Republic of China has 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 centrally administered municipalities and 2 special administrative regions (see the following table).

China's Provinces, Autonomous Regions, Centrally Administered Municipalities and Special Administrative Regions.

Hong Kong and Macao

Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions are located on the east and west banks of the estuary of the Pearl River respectively. Hong Kong and Macao have been Chinese territory since ancient times, and were occupied by Britain and Portugal respectively after the Opium War of 1840. In accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong signed in 1984, China resumed its exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China was formally established. In accordance with the Sino-Portugal Joint Declaration on the Question of Macao signed in 1987, China resumed its sovereignty over Macao on December 20, 1999 and the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) was formally established.

The Chinese government carries out the basic policies of "one country, two systems," "administration of Hong Kong by the Hong Kong people" and "administration of Macao by the Macao people," and "a high degree of autonomy" in both Hong Kong and Macao. "One country, two systems" refers to the fact that in China, a unified country, the mainland practices the socialist system, while Hong Kong and Macao retain their original capitalist system and way of life unchanged for 50 years; "administration of Hong Kong by the Hong Kong people" means that the HKSAR is administered by the Hong Kong people on their own, and the central authorities shall not send officials to the HKSAR to fill local official posts; "administration of Macao by the Macao people" means that the MSAR is administered by the Macao people on their own, and the central authorities shall not send officials to the MSAR to fill local official posts; and "a high degree of autonomy" means that apart from foreign and national defense affairs, which should be administered by the central authorities, the HKSAR and MSAR shall fully enjoy the power of decision over matters within their autonomous jurisdiction, including executive, legislative, independent judicial and final adjudication powers.

The present Chief Executive of the HKSAR is Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, and the present Chief Executive of the MSAR is Ho Hau-Wah.

Taiwan Province

Located to the southeast of the Chinese mainland opposite Fujian Province, the island province of Taiwan is flanked by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Taiwan Straits to the west. Covering an area of 36,000 sq km, Taiwan includes Taiwan Island, the Penghu Islands and 80 other smaller neighboring islands and islets. Taiwan was called Yizhou or Liuqiu in ancient times. Records of Chinese people developing Taiwan in earlier periods are found in many historical books and documents. Beginning from the mid-12th century, the governments of different Chinese dynasties set up administrative bodies to exercise jurisdiction over Taiwan. The social development of Taiwan continued according to Chinese cultural traditions even during its 50-year occupation by Japan after the war of 1894. In 1945, after victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan, the Chinese government restored its administrative organs in Taiwan Province. On the eve of the founding of the PRC in 1949, the Kuomintang authorities retreated from the mainland to Taiwan. In 1950, the Korean War broke out, and the Untied States dispatched its Seventh Fleet to invade Taiwan and the Taiwan Straits. In 1954, the government of the United States and the Taiwan authorities signed a "Mutual Defense Treaty," bringing about the separation of Taiwan from the mainland.

The CPC and the government of the PRC have made unremitting efforts to solve the Taiwan issue and realize the reunification of the country. In February 1972, when President Richard M. Nixon of the United States visited China, the two sides issued the Shanghai Communiqué. On January 1, 1979, the United States established official diplomatic relations with China, formally recognizing the government of the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China and Taiwan as a part of China and, at the same time, announcing the "cessation of diplomatic relations" with the Taiwan authorities, the annulment of the "Mutual Defense Treaty" and the withdrawal of all its military personnel from Taiwan. Under these historical conditions, the CPC and the Chinese government, out of consideration for the interests and future of the whole nation, put forward the basic policy of "peaceful reunification, and one country, two systems" in accordance with the principle of respecting history and reality, seeking truth from facts and taking into account the interests of all sides. The main points of the basic and related policies are:

China will do its best to achieve peaceful reunification, but will not commit itself to ruling out the use of force; will actively promote people-to-people contacts and economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, and start direct trade, postal, air and shipping services as soon as possible; achieve reunification through peaceful negotiations and, on the premise of the one-China principle, any matter can be negotiated. After reunification, the policy of "one country, two systems" will be practiced, with the main body of China (the mainland) continuing with its socialist system, and Taiwan maintaining its capitalist system for a long period to come. After reunification, Taiwan will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, and the Central Government will not send troops or administrative personnel to be stationed in Taiwan. The resolution of the Taiwan issue is an internal affair of China, which should be achieved by the Chinese people themselves, and there is no call for interference by foreign countries. The aforementioned principles and policies embody the basic stand and spirit of adhering to the one-China principle, and fully respect the Taiwan compatriots' wish to govern and administer Taiwan by themselves.

In order to oppose and check Taiwan's secession from China by secessionists in the name of "Taiwan independence," promote peaceful national reunification, maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, preserve China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and safeguard the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation, the Third Session of the Tenth National People's Congress examined and adopted the Anti-Secession Law formulated on the basis of the Constitution in March 2005. This Law has institutionalized the important political policy of the CPC and the Chinese government in solving the Taiwan issue in a legal form, fully manifested that the state, with greatest sincerity and in its best endeavor, strives to realize its constant advocacy of the peaceful unification, and simultaneously demonstrated the common wish and the firm resolution of the people throughout China in safeguarding the state soverienty and territorial integrity, and, stopping secessionists of "Taiwan independence" to secede Taiwan from China in any name and by any means.

Since the publication by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) on 1 January, 1979 of the Appeal to Compatriots in Taiwan, the Central Government has resolutely implemented the basic policy of "peaceful reunification, and one country, two systems," advocated national reunification through negotiations, proposed that the two sides start direct trade, postal, air and shipping services ("the three direct links"), and adopted sincere measures on its own initiative to promote the development of bilateral relations. Economically, it has opened its doors widely to welcome businesspeople from Taiwan to make investments and engage in trade activities on the mainland, and protected their legal rights and interests. In addition, the Central Government has actively promoted people-to-people contacts and bilateral exchanges in the fields of science and technology, culture, sports, academia and journalism; and authorized the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, a non-governmental organization, to establish relations with Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation, and engage in talks on economic and routine affairs. In 1992, the two associations reached a verbal agreement that both adhere to the one-China principle. The "Wang (Daohan)-Koo (Chen-fu) talks" held in April 1993, in Singapore, between the leaders of these two organizations signaled a historically important step forward in the development of cross-Straits relations. In October 1998, Koo Chen-fu paid a visit to Shanghai and Beijing, and reached with Wang Daohan four points of common understanding on dialogues between the two organizations on political, economic and other issues.

From March 28 to April 1, 2005, Chiang Ping-kun, Vice-chairman of Kuomintang of China led a delegation to visit the mainland, which was the first time that a delegation of Kuomintang had visited the mainland in 56 years. At the invitation of the CPC Central Committee and the General Secretary Hu Jintao, Lian Zhan, Chairman of the Kuomintang of China leading a delegation visited the mainland from April 26 to May 3, realizing the first summit meeting of the two parties in the past 60 years. Both parties advocate to adhere to the "1992 Consensus," oppose to "Taiwan independence," seek peace and stability in the Straits area, promote the development of relationship between the two sides, safeguard interests of the people on both sides. From May 5 to 13, James Soong, Chairman of the People-First Party also headed a delegation to visit the mainland at the invitation of the CPC Central Committee and General Secretary Hu Jintao. Both sides reached six common understandings including promotion of restoration of negotiation as soon as possible between the two sides on an equal footing on the basis of "1992 Consensus."

On January 30, 1995, Jiang Zemin, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and President of the People's Republic of China at that time, delivered an important speech titled, "Continue to Fight for Fulfilment of the Great Cause of Reunification of the Motherland." In his speech, Jiang further expounded on the connotations of the policy of "peaceful reunification of the motherland, and one country, two systems," and put forward eight propositions, such as, adherence to the principle of one China; peaceful negotiations between the two parties on both sides of the Taiwan Straits may be held step by step; China will do its best to achieve peaceful reunification, but will not promise not to use force; economic exchange and cooperation between both sides should be promoted; both sides should jointly inherit and carry forward the fine traditions of Chinese culture; hopes should be placed on Taiwan compatriots; all political parties and personages from different walks of life in Taiwan are welcome to visit the mainland and exchange opinions on the relations between the two sides and on peaceful reunification; and leaders of both sides should exchange visits in their proper capacities.

On March 4, 2005, Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and President of the People's Republic of China, put forward four point guidelines on the cross-Straits relations under the new situation, namely, never swaying in adhering to the one-China principle, never giving up efforts to seek peaceful reunification, never changing the principle of placing hope on the Taiwan people, never compromising in opposing the "Taiwan independence" secessionist activities.

The above eight propositions raised by Jiang Zemin and the four points put forward by Hu Jintao fully embody the consistency and persistence of the CPC and the Chinese government on resolution of the Taiwan issue, and embody their determination and sincerity to develop cross-Straits relations and promote the reunification of the motherland. These opinions have been warmly welcomed by the Chinese people at home and abroad, and aroused great attention among the international community. Following China's resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macao, the Chinese people throughout the country eagerly hope that the Taiwan issue will be solved as soon as possible to realize the complete reunification of China.

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