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China City Tier System

The Chinese City Tier System consists of a system of tiers, used by analysts to classify Chinese cities and rank them in a hierarchy.

Although not officially recognized by the Chinese government, this system is frequently used in various sectors, such as marketing, commerce, education, tourism and transport.

It is a tool that plays an important role in identifying business opportunities in the various Chinese cities; it is also essential to take into account the presence of local policies to encourage industrialization.

Cities in different tiers reflect differences in consumer behaviour, income level, population size, consumer sophistication, infrastructure, talent pool, and business opportunity. The tier system typically includes cities in mainland China only.

Therefore, the most populous, developed, and influential cities generally occupy the first ranks;, while the most rural cities, but with great potential for growth, belong to the last ranks.

In 2021, Yicai Global, one of the major financial news outlets in China, ranked 337 Chinese cities in six tiers: First-tier, New first-tier, Second-tier, Third-tier, Fourth-tier, and Fifth-tier.

First-tier cities:

  • Beijing: Beijing

  • Guangdong: Guangzhou, Shenzhen

  • Shanghai: Shanghai

New first-tier cities:

  • Anhui: Hefei

  • Chongqing: Chongqing

  • Guangdong: Dongguan, Foshan

  • Henan: Zhengzhou

  • Hubei: Wuhan

  • Hunan: Changsha

  • Jiangsu: Nanjing, Suzhou

  • Liaoning: Shenyang

  • Shaanxi: Xi'an

  • Shandong: Qingdao

  • Sichuan: Chengdu

  • Tianjin: Tianjin

  • Zhejiang: Hangzhou

Second-tier cities:

  • Fujian: Fuzhou, Quanzhou, Xiamen

  • Gansu: Lanzhou

  • Guangdong: Huizhou, Zhongshan, Zhuhai

  • Guangxi: Nanning

  • Guizhou: Guiyang

  • Hebei: Baoding, Langfang, Shijiazhuang

  • Heilongjiang: Harbin

  • Jiangsu: Changzhou, Nantong, Wuxi, Xuzhou

  • Jiangxi: Nanchang

  • Jilin: Changchun

  • Liaoning: Dalian

  • Shandong: Jinan, Yantai

  • Shanxi: Taiyuan

  • Yunnan: Kunming

  • Zhejiang: Jiaxing, Jinhua, Ningbo, Shaoxing, Taizhou, Wenzhou

The Third-tier includes 70 cities, the Fourth-tier has 90 cities while the Fifth-tier 128 cities.


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