The autonomous regions (Chinese: 自治区; pinyin: Zìzhìqū) are the highest-level administrative divisions of China. Like Chinese provinces, an autonomous region has its own local government, but under Chinese law, an autonomous region has more legislative rights, such as the right to "formulate self-government regulations and other separate regulations." An autonomous region is the highest level of minority autonomous entity in China, which has a comparably higher population of a particular minority ethnic group.
|Location||People's Republic of China|
|Number||5 (Guangxi, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Xinjiang, and Xizang)|
Guangxi – 50,126,804
Nei Mongol – 24,049,155
Ningxia – 7,202,654
Xinjiang – 25,852,345
Xizang – 3,648,100
|Areas||4,380,000 km2 (1,690,000 sq mi)|
Guangxi – 237,600 km2 (91,700 sq mi)
Nei Mongol – 1,183,000 km2 (457,000 sq mi)
Ningxia – 66,400 km2 (25,600 sq mi)
Xinjiang – 1,665,000 km2 (643,000 sq mi)
Xizang – 1,228,000 km2 (474,000 sq mi)
The autonomous regions are the creations of the People's Republic of China (PRC), as they are not recognized by the Republic of China (ROC) based in Taiwan, which previously ruled Mainland China before the PRC's establishment in 1949.
Established in 1947, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region became the first autonomous region in the Chinese liberated zone. Xinjiang was made autonomous in 1955 after the PRC's founding, and Guangxi and Ningxia were made autonomous in 1958. Tibet was placed under PRC control in 1951, with some Western observers calling this an annexation, and was named a Chinese Autonomous Region in 1965. The designation of Guangxi and Ningxia as Zhuang and Hui autonomous areas, respectively, was bitterly protested by the local Han Chinese, who made up two-thirds of the population of each region. Although Mongols made up an even smaller percentage of Inner Mongolia than either of these, the ensuing Chinese Civil War gave little opportunity for protest.
Autonomous regions in China have no legal right to secede, unlike in the Soviet Union – the Law of the People's Republic of China on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, written in 1984, states that "each and every ethnic autonomous region is an inseparable part of the People's Republic of China," and that "any form of ... separatism ... is absolutely prohibited."
|Name in English||Simplified Chinese
SASM/GNC romanization (Language)
|Abbreviation||Capital||Language||Pre-1949 ROC subdivision|
|Zhuang||Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||广西壮族自治区
Guǎngxī Zhuàngzú Zìzhìqū
|Gvangjsih Bouxcuengh Swcigih (Standard Zhuang/Zhuang)||桂
|Zhuang, Standard Zhuang language (Vahcuengh)||Guangxi (province)|
|Mongol||Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region||内蒙古自治区
Nèi Měnggǔ Zìzhìqū
|ᠦᠪᠦᠷ ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠤᠯ ᠤᠨ ᠥᠪᠡᠷᠲᠡᠭᠡᠨ ᠵᠠᠰᠠᠬᠣ ᠣᠷᠣᠨ
Öbür mongüol-un öbertegen zasaqu orun (Mongolian)
|Mongolian||Suiyuan, Chahar, Rehe, Liaobei, Xing'an, Gansu and Ningxia.|
|Tibetan||Tibet Autonomous Region||西藏自治区
Poi Ranggyong Jong (Standard Tibetan)
|Standard Tibetan||Tibet Area, Xikang|
|Uyghur||Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region||新疆维吾尔自治区
Xīnjiāng Wéiwú'ěr Zìzhìqū
|شىنجاڭ ئۇيغۇر ئاپتونوم رايونى
Xinjang Uyĝur Aptonom Rayoni (Uyghur)
|Hui||Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region||宁夏回族自治区
Níngxià Huízú Zìzhìqū
|The Hui speak Chinese||宁
|Dungan, Chinese||Ningxia (province)|
|Administrative Division||National Share (%)||2010 Census||2000 Census||1990 Census||1982 Census||1964 Census||1954 Census|
|Tibet Autonomous Region||0.2||3,002,166||2,616,329||2,196,010||1,892,393||1,251,225||1,273,969|
|Administrative Division||Titular Ethnic Group||Han Chinese||Third Largest Ethnic Group|
|Xinjiang (Uyghur)||45.21%||40.58%||6.74% (Kazakh)|
|Tibet (Tibetan)||92.8%||6.1%||0.35% (Hui)|
|Inner Mongolia (Mongol)||17.13%||79.17%||2.14% (Manchu)|
|Ningxia (Hui)||33.9%||65.5 %||1.16% (Manchu)|
|Guangxi (Zhuang)||32.0%||62.0 %||3.0% (Yao)|
Note: In the "Third Largest Ethnic Group" column is the ethnic group given in brackets, after the names of the autonomous regions and Han people.
ARTICLE 4. Each one of the member Republics retains the right to freely withdraw from the union.
各民族自治地方都是中华人民共和国不可分离的部分 – Each and every ethnic autonomous region is an inseparable part of the People's Republic of China.
Based on China’s Constitution, any sub-national unit, either a province or an ethnic minority autonomous region, does not legally have the right to secede from China.