Municipalities are directly under the administration of central government. They have the same political, economical and jurisdictional rights as a province. It is the highest level of classification of cities in China. These are not “cities” in usual sense of the term. It is administrative unit comprising, typically of a main central urban area. Under them there is a much larger surrounding rural area. They contain many smaller cities, districts, sub districts, towns and villages.
In the year 1954, only Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin remained as municipality. Chongqing was restored as a municipality in 1997 with a much larger area. Tianjin was temporarily reverted to sub-provincial city status between 1958-1967.