Mainland China

Mainland China
Mainland China
The highlighted orange area in the map is what is commonly known as "mainland China".
Traditional Chinese 中國大陸
Simplified Chinese 中国大陆
Literal meaning Continental China
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Literal meaning Inland

Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China (PRC). According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.[1][2]

There are two terms in Chinese for "mainland". Namely, Dalu (simplified Chinese: 大陆; traditional Chinese: 大陸), which means continent, and Neidi (内地 / 內地), literally inner land. In the PRC, the usage of the two terms are generally interchangeable and there is no prescribed method of reference in any jurisdiction. To emphasize "equal footing" in cross-strait relations, the term is used in official contexts with reference to Taiwan, with the PRC referring to itself as "the mainland side" (as opposed to "the Taiwan side"). But in its relations with Hong Kong and Macau, the PRC government refers to itself as "the Central People's Government".

In Taiwan, the term "mainland" is often used to refer to mainland China (Hong Kong and Macau excluded), especially by the Kuomintang (KMT, "Chinese Nationalist Party") and its supporters, who share the view that China encompasses both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Since the KMT was the long-time ruling party in Taiwan, the term is in mainstream use in Taiwan and often has no political implications. Government organizations and official and legal documents in Taiwan also use "mainland" to refer to mainland China. In contrast, supporters of Taiwan independence will refer to mainland China as "China", intending Taiwan to represent a separate country and avoid the term mainland because they believe the term implies that Taiwan is part of China.



By 1949, the Communist Party of China's People's Liberation Army had largely defeated the Kuomintang (KMT)'s National Revolutionary Army in the Chinese Civil War on the mainland. This forced the Kuomintang to relocate the Government and institutions of the Republic of China to the relative safety of Taiwan, an island which was placed under the control of the Republic of China after the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II in 1945. With the establishment of the People's Republic of China on October 1 1949, the CPC-controlled government saw itself as the sole legitimate government of China,[3] competing with the claims of the Republic of China, whose authority is now limited to Taiwan and other islands. This has resulted in a situation in which two co-existing governments compete for international legitimacy and recognition as the "Government of China".

The term "mainland China" emerged as a politically neutral term to refer to the area under control of the Communist Party of China, and later to the administration of the PRC itself. Until the late 1970s, both the PRC and ROC envisioned a military takeover of the other. During this time the ROC referred to the PRC government as "Communist Bandits" (共匪) while the PRC referred to the ROC as "Chiang Bandits" (蔣匪). Later, as a military solution became less feasible, the ROC referred to the PRC as "Communist China"" (中共). With the democratization of Taiwan in the 1990s, the term mainland China soon grew to mean not only the area under the control of the Communist Party of China, but also a more neutral means to refer to the People's Republic of China government; this usage remains prevalent by the KMT today.

Due to their status as colonies of foreign states during the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the term "mainland China" excludes Hong Kong and Macau.[4] Since the return of Hong Kong and Macau to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 and 1999, respectively, the two territories have retained their legal, political, and economic systems. The territories also have their distinct identities. Therefore "mainland China" generally continues to exclude these territories, because of the "One country, two systems" policy adopted by the PRC central government towards the regions.[5] The term is also used in economic indicators, such as the IMD Competitiveness Report. International news media often use "China" to refer only to mainland China or the People's Republic of China.

Usage of the term

In Taiwan

In Taiwan, under the concept of "Mainlander" another comparative term often used is waishengren (Chinese: 外省人; pinyin: wàishěngrén; literally "external province person(s)"), which are the people who immigrated to Taiwan from mainland China with the Kuomintang (KMT) around the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, as well as their descendants born in Taiwan. The status of waishengren in Taiwan is a divisive political issue. For many years certain groups of mainlanders were given special treatment by the KMT government which had imposed martial law on Taiwan. More recently, pro-Taiwan independence politicians calling into question their loyalty and devotion to Taiwan and pro-Chinese reunification politicians accusing the pro-independence politicians of playing identity politics.[6] The term "Mainlander" mostly refers to daluren (simplified Chinese: 大陆人; traditional Chinese: 大陸人; pinyin: dàlùrén; literally "mainland person(s)"), meaning people who live in mainland China.

In Hong Kong and Macau

In Hong Kong and Macau, the terms "mainland China" and "mainlander" are frequently used for people from China mainland. This usage is not geographically accurate, however, as much of the land area of both Hong Kong and Macau are peninsulas connected to the continent. The Chinese term 內地, meaning the inland but still translated mainland in English, is commonly applied by SAR governments to represent non-SAR areas of PRC, including Hainan and coastal regions of mainland China, such as "Constitutional and Mainland Affairs" (政制及內地事務局)[7] and Immigration Departments.[8]

In the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (as well as the Mainland and Macau Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) the CPG also uses the Chinese characters 内地 "inner land", with the note that they refer to the "customs territory of China".[9]

In mainland China

In the PRC, the term 内地 ("Inland") is often contrasted with the term 境外 ("outside of the border") for things outside of the mainland region. Examples include "Administration of Foreign-funded Banks" (中華人民共和國外資銀行管理條例) or the "Measures on Administration of Representative Offices of Foreign Insurance Institutions" (外國保險機構駐華代表機構管理辦法).[5]

In Hainan

Hainan is an offshore island, therefore geographically not part of the continental mainland. Nevertheless, politically it is common practice to consider it part of the mainland because its government, legal and political systems do not differ from the rest of People's Republic of China in the geographical mainland. Hainanese people routinely refer to Hainan as mainland China, and consider themselves mainlanders.


Other use of geography-related terms are also often used where neutrality is required.

Pinyin Jyutping Description
海峡两岸 海峽兩岸 Hǎixiá liǎng'àn hoi2 haap6 loeng5 ngon6 The physical shores on both sides of the straits, may be translated as "two shores".
两岸关系 兩岸關係 liǎng'àn guānxì loeng5 ngon6 gwaan1 hai6 Reference to the Taiwan Strait (Cross-Strait relations, literally "relations between the two sides/shores [of the Strait of Taiwan]")
两岸三地 兩岸三地 liǎng'àn sāndì loeng5 ngon6 saam1 dei6 An extension of this is the term "two shores, three places", with "three places" meaning mainland China (大陸/大陆), Taiwan (臺灣/台湾) and either Hong Kong (香港) or Macau (澳門/澳门).
两岸四地 兩岸四地 liǎng'àn sìdì loeng5 ngon6 sei3 dei6 When referring to either Hong Kong or Macau, or "two shores, four places" when referring to both Hong Kong (香港) and Macau (澳門/澳门)

See also


  1. ^ * (arts. 10, 24(3), 57)
  2. ^ *
  3. ^ Jeshurun, Chandran. [1993] (1993). China, India, Japan and the Security of Southeast Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 9813016612. pg 146.
  4. ^ So, Alvin Y. Lin, Nan. Poston, Dudley L. Contributor Professor, So, Alvin Y. [2001] (2001). The Chinese Triangle of mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Greenwood Publishing. ISBN 0313308691.
  5. ^ a b LegCo. "Legislative council HK." Mainland Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Bill. Retrieved on 2008-03-10.
  6. ^ "" Taiwan's Identity Politics. Retrieved on 2008-03-10.
  7. ^ Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. "Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China." Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. Retrieved on 2008-03-10.
  8. ^ Chinese version, English version, Statistics on Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (輸入內地人才計劃數據資料), Immigration Department (Hong Kong).
  9. ^ English Text Chinese text

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