Nuna Network

Knowledge Base

Get started with business partners in China.

Featured Articles

Protect Your Business

2 days. $99. Comprehensive report on your Chinese partners.

Key Documents


Business in China


Background on China


Recent Articles

Explaining China’s City Tier System

city tier-min-min.jpeg

What: To organize a vast and complex system of cities, from major metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, to small rural cities that number in the hundreds, China devised an unofficial city tier system to organize its vast landscape according to the cities’ level of development.

Why: Understanding a city’s level of importance in terms of its size, development, prominence, and significance from the governmental, commercial, transportation, and cultural weight each carries for China can help you with your research and planning for doing business in China.


China’s explosive urban growth and development over the last 20 years has brought about a system of classifying its cities according to their level of development. The China city tier system is a quick and convenient way to begin research for possible locations in which to do business. The system is not an official Chinese government classification; rather, the China city tier system originated as an outgrowth of a YiCai Global Report in 2017. An exception to note is that not all cities fall into the classification system, such as municipalities that are considered county level cities.

As part of our ongoing commitment to providing valuable information to small- and medium businesses seeking to start or extend a relationship with a Chinese entity, Nuna Network has put together this handy article and accompanying chart to help guide you through your research, identification and validation process.

China City Tiers: Summary

There are five primary China City Tiers:

  • China Tier One Cities span 10 provinces and 2 municipalities (Tianjin & Chongqing). Ten of these fifteen China Tier One cities are provincial capitals. Cities in this category are the largest and most developed, and are of primary importance to China because of their role in government, commerce, transportation, or culture.

  • China Tier Two Cities span 18 provinces and include among them 13 provincial capitals. Most of the cities in this category are clustered in the eastern part of China, with one exception: Urumqi, the provincial capital of the Xinjiang province, is located in China’s far western region.

  • China Tier Three Cities span 23 provinces and include 3 provincial capitals located in Qinghai (Xining), Inner Mongolia (Hohhot), and Ningxia (Yinchuan). A few of the cities in this category are located in China’s inland provinces such as Anhui, Henan, Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi.

  • China Tier Four Cities span 20 provinces. No city in this category is a provincial capital.

  • China Tier Five Cities  span 23 provinces and includes Lhasa, the provincial capital of Tibet. These cities are generally less developed than cities in tiers one through four. Cities in this category, though, represent a slightly more even geographic distribution, with representation in China’s interior, far western, and northeastern regions.

China City Tiers: Premier Cities

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen rank as premier China Tier 1 Cities given their size, prominence, and importance from the governmental, commercial, transportation, and cultural weight each carries for China. The list below indicates each premier China Tier 1 Cities and its municipality or province:

  1. Beijing (北京, Beijing Municipality)

  2. Guangzhou (广州, Guangdong Province)

  3. Shanghai (上海, Shanghai Municipality)

  4. Shenzhen (深圳, Guangdong Province)


China Tier 1 Cities

China Tier One City Name in English
China Tier One City Name in Chinese
China Tier One City: Province or Municipality
Changsha长沙Hunan
Chengdu成都Sichuan
Chongqing重庆Chongqing Municipality
Dongguan东莞Guangdong
Hangzhou杭州Zhejiang
Nanjing南京Jiangsu
Ningbo宁波Zhejiang
Qingdao青岛Shandong
Shenyang沈阳Liaoning
Suzhou苏州Jiangsu
Tianjin天津Tianjin Municipality
Wuhan武汉Hubei
Wuxi无锡Jiangsu
Xi'an西安Shaanxi
Zhengzhou郑州Henan

China Tier 2 Cities

China Tier Two City Name in English
China Tier Two City Name in Chinese
China Tier Two City: Province or Municipality
Baoding保定Hebei
Changchun长春Jilin
Changzhou常州Jiangsu
Dalian大连Liaoning
Foshan佛山Guangdong
Fuzhou福州Fujian
Guiyang贵阳Guizhou
Harbin哈尔滨Heilongjiang
Hefei合肥Anhui
Huizhou惠州Guangdong
Jiaxing嘉兴Zhejiang
Jinan济南Shandong
Jinhua金华Zhejiang
Kunming昆明Yunnan
Lanzhou兰州Gansu
Nanchang南昌Jiangxi
Nanning南宁Guangxi
Nantong南通Jiangsu
Quanzhou泉州Fujian
Shaoxing绍兴Zhejiang
Shijiazhuang石家庄Hebei
Taiyuan太原Shanxi
Taizhou台州Zhejiang
Urumqi乌鲁木齐Xinjiang
Weifang潍坊Shandong
Wenzhou温州Zhejiang
Xiamen厦门Fujian
Xuzhou徐州Jiangsu
Yantai烟台Shandong
Zhongshan中山Guangdong

China Tier 3 Cities

China Tier Three City Name in English
China Tier Three City Name in Chinese
China Tier Three City: Province or Municipality
Bengbu蚌埠Anhui
Chuzhou滁州Anhui
Fuyang阜阳Anhui
Tongling铜陵Anhui
Wuhu芜湖Anhui
Ningde宁德Fujian
Putian莆田Fujian
Zhangzhou漳州Fujian
Chaozhou潮州Guangdong
Jiangmen江门Guangdong
Jieyang揭阳Guangdong
Shantou汕头Guangdong
Zhanjiang湛江Guangdong
Zhaoqing肇庆Guangdong
Zhuhai珠海Guangdong
Guilin桂林Guangxi
Liuzhou柳州Guangxi
Zunyi遵义Guizhou
Haikou海口Hainan
Sanya三亚Hainan
Cangzhou沧州Hebei
Handan邯郸Hebei
Langfang廊坊Hebei
Qinhuangdao秦皇岛Hebei
Tangshan唐山Hebei
Xingtai邢台Hebei
Daqing大庆Heilongjiang
Luoyang洛阳Henan
Nanyang南阳Henan
Shangqiu商丘Henan
Xinxiang新乡Henan
Xinyang信阳Henan
Xuchang许昌Henan
Zhumadian驻马店Henan
Huanggang黄冈Hubei
Jingzhou荆州Hubei
Xiangyang襄阳Hubei
Yichang宜昌Hubei
Changde常德Hunan
Hengyang衡阳Hunan
Xiangtan湘潭Hunan
Yueyang岳阳Hunan
Zhuzhou株洲Hunan
Baotou包头Inner Mongolia
Hohhot呼和浩特Mongolia
Huai'an淮安Jiangsu
Lianyungang连云港Jiangsu
Suqian宿迁Jiangsu
Taizhou泰州Jiangsu
Yancheng盐城Jiangsu
Yangzhou扬州Jiangsu
Zhenjiang镇江Jiangsu
Ganzhou赣州Jiangxi
Jiujiang九江Jiangxi
Shangrao上饶Jiangxi
Yichun宜春Jiangxi
Jilin吉林Jilin
Anshan鞍山Liaoning
Yinchuan银川Ningxia
Xining西宁Qinghai
Xianyang咸阳Shaanxi
Heze菏泽Shandong
Jining济宁Shandong
Linyi临沂Shandong
Weihai威海Shandong
Zibo淄博Shandong
Deyang德阳Sichuan
Mianyang绵阳Sichuan
Qujing曲靖Yunnan
Huzhou湖州Zhejiang

China Tier 4 Cities

China Tier Four City Name in English
China Tier Four City Name in Chinese
China Tier Four City: Province or Municipality
Anqing安庆Anhui
Bozhou亳州Anhui
Huainan淮南Anhui
Huangshan黄山Anhui
Lu'an六安Anhui
Ma'anshan马鞍山Anhui
Suzhou宿州Anhui
Xuancheng宣城Anhui
Longyan龙岩Fujian
Nanping南平Fujian
Sanming三明Fujian
Heyuan河源Guangdong
Maoming茂名Guangdong
Meizhou梅州Guangdong
Qingyuan清远Guangdong
Shanwei汕尾Guangdong
Shaoguan韶关Guangdong
Yangjiang阳江Guangdong
Beihai北海Guangxi
Yulin玉林Guangxi
Anshun安顺Guizhou
Bijie毕节Guizhou
Qiandongnan黔东南Guizhou
Qiannan黔南Guizhou
Tongren铜仁Guizhou
Chengde承德Hebei
Hengshui衡水Hebei
Zhangjiakou张家口Hebei
Jiamusi佳木斯Heilongjiang
Mudanjiang牡丹江Heilongjiang
Qiqihar齐齐哈尔Heilongjiang
Anyang安阳Henan
Jiaozuo焦作Henan
Kaifeng开封Henan
Luohe漯河Henan
Pingdingshan平顶山Henan
Puyang濮阳Henan
Zhoukou周口Henan
Huangshi黄石Hubei
Shiyan十堰Hubei
Xianning咸宁Hubei
Xiaogan孝感Hubei
Chenzhou郴州Hunan
Huaihua怀化Hunan
Loudi娄底Hunan
Shaoyang邵阳Hunan
Yiyang益阳Hunan
Yongzhou永州Hunan
Chifeng赤峰Inner Mongolia
Hulun Buir呼伦贝尔Inner Mongolia
Ordos鄂尔多斯Inner Mongolia
Tongliao通辽Inner Mongolia
Fuzhou抚州Jiangxi
Ji'an吉安Jiangxi
Songyuan松原Jilin
Tonghua通化Jilin
Yanbian延边Jilin
Dandong丹东Liaoning
Fushun抚顺Liaoning
Jinzhou锦州Liaoning
Panjin盘锦Liaoning
Yingkou营口Liaoning
Baoji宝鸡Shaanxi
Weinan渭南Shaanxi
Yulin榆林Shaanxi
Binzhou滨州Shandong
Dezhou德州Shandong
Dongying东营Shandong
Liaocheng聊城Shandong
Rizhao日照Shandong
Tai'an泰安Shandong
Zaozhuang枣庄Shandong
Datong大同Shanxi
Jinzhong晋中Shanxi
Linfen临汾Shanxi
Yuncheng运城Shanxi
Leshan乐山Sichuan
Luzhou泸州Sichuan
Meishan眉山Sichuan
Nanchong南充Sichuan
Neijiang内江Sichuan
Suining遂宁Sichuan
Yibin宜宾Sichuan
Dali大理Yunnan
Honghe红河Yunnan
Lijiang丽江Yunnan
Yuxi玉溪Yunnan
Lishui丽水Zhejiang
Quzhou衢州Zhejiang
Zhoushan舟山Zhejiang

China Tier 5 Cities

China Tier Five City Name in English
China Tier Five City Name in Chinese
China Tier Five City: Province or Municipality
Chizhou池州Anhui
Huaibei淮北Anhui
Baiyin白银Gansu
Dingxi定西Gansu
Gannan甘南Gansu
Jiayuguan嘉峪关Gansu
Jinchang金昌Gansu
Jiuquan酒泉Gansu
Linxia临夏Gansu
Longnan陇南Gansu
Pingliang平凉Gansu
Qingyang庆阳Gansu
Tianshui天水Gansu
Wuwei武威Gansu
Zhangye张掖Gansu
Yunfu云浮Guangdong
Baise百色Guangxi
Chongzuo崇左Guangxi
Fangchenggang防城港Guangxi
Guigang贵港Guangxi
Hechi河池Guangxi
Hezhou贺州Guangxi
Laibin来宾Guangxi
Qinzhou钦州Guangxi
Wuzhou梧州Guangxi
Liupanshui六盘水Guizhou
Qianxinan黔西南Guizhou
Danzhou儋州Hainan
Sansha三沙Hainan
Da Hinggan Ling大兴安岭Heilongjiang
Hegang鹤岗Heilongjiang
Heihe黑河Heilongjiang
Jixi鸡西Heilongjiang
Qitaihe七台河Heilongjiang
Shuangyashan双鸭山Heilongjiang
Suihua绥化Heilongjiang
Yichun伊春Heilongjiang
Hebi鹤壁Henan
Sanmenxia三门峡Henan
Enshi恩施Hubei
Ezhou鄂州Hubei
Jingmen荆门Hubei
Suizhou随州Hubei
Xiangxi湘西Hunan
Zhangjiajie张家界Hunan
Alxa阿拉善Inner Mongolia
Bayan Nur巴彦淖尔Inner Mongolia
Hinggan兴安Inner Mongolia
Ulanqab乌兰察布Inner Mongolia
Wuhai乌海Inner Mongolia
Xilin Gol锡林郭勒Inner Mongolia
Jingdezhen景德镇Jiangxi
Pingxiang萍乡Jiangxi
Xinyu新余Jiangxi
Yingtan鹰潭Jiangxi
Baicheng白城Jilin
Baishan白山Jilin
Liaoyuan辽源Jilin
Siping四平Jilin
Benxi本溪Liaoning
Chaoyang朝阳Liaoning
Fuxin阜新Liaoning
Huludao葫芦岛Liaoning
Liaoyang辽阳Liaoning
Tieling铁岭Liaoning
Guyuan固原Ningxia
Shizuishan石嘴山Ningxia
Wuzhong吴忠Ningxia
Zhongwei中卫Ningxia
Golog果洛Qinghai
Haibei海北Qinghai
Haidong海东Qinghai
Hainan海南Qinghai
Haixi海西Qinghai
Huangnan黄南Qinghai
Yushu玉树Qinghai
Ankang安康Shaanxi
Hanzhong汉中Shaanxi
Shangluo商洛Shaanxi
Tongchuan铜川Shaanxi
Yan'an延安Shaanxi
Laiwu莱芜Shandong
Changzhi长治Shanxi
Jincheng晋城Shanxi
Lvliang吕梁Shanxi
Shuozhou朔州Shanxi
Xinzhou忻州Shanxi
Yangquan阳泉Shanxi
Aba阿坝Sichuan
Bazhong巴中Sichuan
Dazhou达州Sichuan
Garze甘孜Sichuan
Guang'an广安Sichuan
Guangyuan广元Sichuan
Liangshan凉山Sichuan
Panzhihua攀枝花Sichuan
Ya'an雅安Sichuan
Zigong自贡Sichuan
Ziyang资阳Sichuan
Lhasa拉萨Tibet
Nagqu那曲Tibet
Ngari阿里Tibet
Nyingchi林芝Tibet
Qamdo昌都Tibet
Shannan山南Tibet
Xigaze日喀则Tibet
Aksu阿克苏Xinjiang
Altay阿勒泰Xinjiang
Bayingol巴音郭楞Xinjiang
Bortala博尔塔拉Xinjiang
Changji昌吉Xinjiang
Hotan和田Xinjiang
Ili伊犁Xinjiang
Karamay克拉玛依Xinjiang
Kaxgar喀什Xinjiang
Kizilsu克孜勒苏Xinjiang
Kumul哈密Xinjiang
Tacheng塔城Xinjiang
Turpan吐鲁番Xinjiang
Baoshan保山Yunnan
Chuxiong楚雄Yunnan
Dehong德宏Yunnan
Deqen迪庆Yunnan
Lincang临沧Yunnan
Nujiang怒江Yunnan
Pu'er普洱Yunnan
Wenshan文山Yunnan
Xishuangbanna西双版纳Yunnan
Zhaotong昭通Yunnan

Want to write for Nuna Network? Apply to create a guest post.