The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Special Administrative Region

A Special Administrative Region (SAR) (Simplified Chinese: 特别行政区; Traditional Chinese: 特別行政區; pinyin: tbi xngzhngqū; Cantonese IPA: /tɐk6piːt6 hɐŋ4tsɪŋ3kʰɵy1/; Jyutping: dak6bit6 hang4zing3keoi1; Yale: dahkbiht hhngjingkeūi) is a political subdivision of the People's Republic of China. The PRC at present has two SARs, Hong Kong and Macau; each has a Chief Executive as head of government.


Current situation

Article 31 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China authorizes the National People's Congress to create special administrative regions and to create a Basic Law which provides those regions with a high degree of autonomy, a separate political system and a capitalist economy under the principle of "One country, two systems" proposed by Deng Xiaoping.

Currently, the two SARs of Hong Kong and Macau are responsible for all issues except diplomatic relations and national defense: consequently, they have their own judiciaries and courts of final appeal, immigration policies, currencies and extradition processes. Hong Kong remains using common law, whereas Macau remains using Portuguese legal system.

Both the SARs each has their own passports, which requires 7 years of residence in the SAR, and therefore citizenships are differentiated from Chinese citizens in the mainland (that is, there exist three types of citizenships in the PRC).

Offer to Taiwan

The PRC has offered Taiwan a similar status to that of an SAR if it accepts mainland rule; however the Republic of China government refuses to accept the offer, and most polls indicate that only around 10% of the Taiwanese electorate support it. Unlike Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan would be able to retain its own armed forces as an SAR.

Historical arrangements in the Republic of China

In the political division of the Republic of China, "special administrative regions" were historically used to designate special areas, most of which were eventually converted into provinces. These included:

  • Suiyuan - set up in 1914, converted into province in 1928
  • Chahar - set up in 1914, converted into province in 1928
  • Rehe - set up in 1914, converted into province in 1928
  • Chuanbian - set up in 1914, converted to Xikang Province in 1935
  • Dongsheng - set up in 1924 after reverting to Chinese rule
  • Weihaiwei - set up in 1930 after reverting to Chinese rule
  • Hainan - set up in 1944, abolished after communist takeover


Chahar was made a special administrative region in 1914 by the Republic of China, as a subdivision of the then Zhili province, with 6 banners and 11 counties. In 1928 it became a province, with 5 of its counties partitioned to Suiyuan, and 10 counties were included from Hebei.


This is not to be confused with "Special Economic Zone", which is a economic and taxation arrangement for other regions.

See also

Last updated: 05-06-2005 15:05:25