Great Administrative Area

Greater administrative area

Greater administrative areas (大行政区 Pinyin: Dàxíngzhèngqū) were early top-level administrative divisions of the People's Republic of China that directly governed provinces and municipalities. These were the largest-ever political divisions of China and were controlled by the Central People's Government. They were dissolved between June and November 1954.

The greater administrative areas originated from the districts governed by governors-general (總督轄區) established during the late Qing dynasty. The six greater administrative areas were:

Area Hanzi Initial subdivisions 1st chairman Capital Creation People's gov't creation
North China Area 華北區 Hebei, Shanxi, Chahar, Pingyuan, Suiyuan, Beijing, and Tianjin ? Beijing? May 1948 August 1948
Northeast China Area 東北區 Songjiang, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Liaodong, Liaoxi, Rehe, Lüshun-Dalian, Shenyang, Benxi, Anshan, and Fushun Gao Gang Shenyang August 1946 August 1949
East China Area 華東區 Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Shandong, Shanghai, and Nanjing Rao Shushi Shanghai January 1950
Central and South China Area 中南區 Hubei, Hunan, Henan, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Guangdong, and Hankou Lin Biao Hankou February 1950
Northwest Area 西北區 Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Xi'an Peng Dehuai Xi'an January 1950
Southwest Area 西南區 Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Xikang, and Chongqing Liu Bocheng Chongqing February 1950

North China Area was the first to be abandoned on October 31, 1949 when New China's capital was established in Beijing. The provinces it governed were thenceforth directly controlled by the North China Branch (事務部) of the Government Administration Council of the Central People's Government instead. In May 1952, control was again transferred, this time to the North China Administrative Council (行政委員會) of the Government Administration Council.

Several other large-scale entities governed parts of China's territory during this time and were equivalent to greater administrative areas:

  • Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region: never belonged to a greater administrative area
  • The Executive Committee of Qiongyai Minority Nationality Autonomous Region (瓊崖少數民族自治區行政委員會) from 1949, later assigned to Central and South China Area; the predecessor of Hainan
  • Local Xizang Government (西藏地方政府) of the Tibetan region from 1951, later belonged to Southwest Area

Except the Northeast, which was governed by a People's Government, the areas' highest government bodies were Military and Administrative Committees (軍政委員會), which were replaced by administrative councils in November 1952.

The highest officials of the greater administrative areas were known as chairmen (主席). (From this historical origin derives the term still used today for the top officials of China's autonomous regions.)

Several domains in China today retain the same structure of geographic divisions as the GAAs. Military administrative regions, the divisions of some major banks, and civilian aviation districts are still divided in the same form as the greater administrative areas.

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