Opinions, knowledge and resources from China Checkup's expert contributors
by Matt Slater
31 May 2018
If you've ever visited China or researched the Chinese market, you will probably have heard of the concept of "China city tiers".
Brought about by the rapid growth of Chinese cities over the last 20 years, labelling a city as "1st Tier" or "2nd Tier" became a convenient way to quickly describe its relative level of development.
This article introduces and provides maps for each of the China city tiers and identifies which tier 338 different Mainland China cities are ranked under.
So common is the use of "China city tiers" terminology that you could be easily mistaken into believing that the rankings are an official government ranking system.
This is not the case though, the city tiers ranking system has come about in a more organic way than that.
As beautifully illustrated in this South China Morning Post piece, Chinese cities were originally grouped into 4 tiers, however a 2017 report from YiCai Global introduced a new methodology for ranking which caught many people's attention.
In this report 6 different tiers were defined, including for the first time "New 1st Tier Cities" - a tier created to reflect the rapid urban development of 15 "up and coming" cities.
We have used the tiers defined, and cities listed, in YiCai's study as the basis for creating this article.
This map shows where each of the cities listed in the China city tiers system are located.
Each point represents a Chinese city with darker shades representing larger cities. You can identify the different ranks based on the below color code:
1st Tier Cities | New 1st Tier Cities | 2nd Tier Cities | 3rd Tier Cities | 4th Tier Cities | 5th Tier Cities
Now we've explained a little about the China city tiers system you probably want to find out which cities are categorized as which tiers, but before we dive in here are a few things to take note of:
One thing to be aware of is that not all Chinese cities are included in this list and this is mainly because there are many "county-level cities" in China which although named "cities" are in fact usually under the administration of a nearby "prefecture-level" city.
Some more well-known examples include Yiwu (part of Jinhua), Rui'an (part of Wenzhou) and Kunshan (part of Suzhou).
Each province of China has a capital city, so to make these easier to identify we have marked them with this logo:
There are a lot of cities listed here, so to search for a specific city try hitting CTRL-F.
China's premier cities, these 4 stand heads above the competition and include some of the country's most famous districts.
In 2017 Yicai Global's report concluded that 15 Chinese cities are now emerging as new 1st tier cities and created this new label to identify them.
Inner Mongolia (44-45)
Inner Mongolia (49-52)
Inner Mongolia (46-51)
Based on the location and rank of each city included in China's tier system we have created this heatmap.
It clearly illustrates how the majority of major China cities are located in the Eastern coastal areas.
This heatmap was created by using the following weightings to cities from each rank:
Hi there, I'm Matt, the Founder & CEO of China Checkup. Originally from the UK, I am now based in Brisbane, Australia.
Frustrated by the scarcity of concise, high-quality and timely information about Chinese companies, I setup China Checkup whilst living in Shanghai in 2013.
My team are proud that China Checkup's company verification reports have now helped thousands of clients from all corners of the world to do business in China more safely.
by Matt Slater
18 May 2020
This article takes a look at the 6 different China city types and the various levels of autonomy and power each type holds.
China has over 700 official cities, from the metropolises of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong down to the smaller cities of Beihai, Shangrao and Qufu, but they are not all governed equally.
Read this guide if you want to understand the difference between China city types, including municipalities, prefecture-level cities, county-level cities and more.
by Matt Slater
30 January 2020
Launched by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, the decades long process of Chinese economic reform has transformed China beyond recognition.
This article highlights some of the most significant events during this period in the form of a year by year timeline.
by Matt Slater
09 January 2020
Listening to China business podcasts can be a great way to get insights on the Chinese market, pick up new knowledge and get fresh perspectives.
The great news is that there is actually a lot of great podcasts out there on this topic - and in this article I have chosen my current top ten.
These podcasts cover business in China from a range of angles - including tech startups, importing/sourcing, economics and more - so if you are interested in learning more about China business you are sure to find quality material here.
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