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The highlighted orange area in the map is what is commonly known as "mainland China".
Mainland China, Continental 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 Chinamarker (PRC), excluding Hong Kongmarker and Macaumarker, which are under the jurisdiction of the PRC but run on different economic and political systems. The term never includes Taiwan which is claimed by the PRC but is administered by the Republic of Chinamarker (ROC).

Within China, the use of "mainland China" to refer to China is more politically sensitive, mostly due to China claiming to have sovereignty over Taiwan; using the term "mainland China" would seem to imply that Taiwan is not a part of China and thus be inconsistent with this point of view. There are two terms in Chinese for "mainland". Namely, Dalu ( ), which means continent, and Neidi ( ), literally inner land. The usage of the two terms are generally interchangeable and there is no prescribed method of reference in any jurisdiction.

In Taiwan, the usage of the term "mainland China" was used by the KMT-ROC authoritarian party-state to emphasize their claim over all of China, not just Taiwan. Today, it remains in use in Taiwan for both historical reasons and for political purposes - specifically among those in Taiwan that support unification with China and hold a one-China view of mainland China - Taiwan relations. However, many in Taiwan, especially supporters of a continued independent Taiwan avoid the term precisely because it implies that Taiwan and mainland China are both a part of a currently politically divided China. Accordingly, Neidi is found to be even more offensive than mainland China. Instead, they use China to refer to the PRC and Taiwan to refer to the ROC. This distinction holds for both English and Chinese.


Before and after World War II, two political entities fought for control of China. Eventually, in 1949, the Communist Party of China emerged victorious against the Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party, governing party of the Republic of China), whose leaders relocated the administration of the Republic of Chinamarker to Taipeimarker. The Communist Party claimed to be the sole legitimate government of China on October 1, 1949, and named the state the People's Republic of Chinamarker. The Republic of Chinamarker, since then based in Taiwan, an island which the Republic of China took control of after the Japanese surrender of 1945, also claimed to be China's sole legitimate government. This led to a geopolitical scene with two co-existing governments each claiming international legitimacy as the government of China. Communist leader Mao Zedong vowed to attack Taiwan and destroy the KMT, and KMT leader Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek vowed to attack the Communists, now based across the Taiwan Straitmarker in mainland China. As this political framework solidified, the term "mainland China" emerged as a politically neutral term to refer to the area under control of the Communist Party of China. Supporters of Taiwan's independence prefer using "China" to refer to the People's Republic of China, as using "mainland China" would imply that Taiwan is part of China.

When the People's Republic of China was founded, Hong Kongmarker and Macaumarker were still colonies of Great Britainmarker and Portugalmarker, respectively. As a result, "mainland China" also excluded these two territories. 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. The term is also used in economic indicators, such as the IMDmarker Competitiveness Report.

The usage of the term "mainland China" is more limited in the English language, with "China" being the common term used to refer to mainland China, or the People's Republic of China and the areas under its control.

Usage of the term

The term is variously capitalised Mainland China or mainland China (or the Mainland/the mainland) by authoritative users.

In Taiwan

In Taiwanmarker, the term "Mainlander" can also refer to waishengren ( ), which are the people who migrated 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 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. The term "Mainlander" can also refer to daluren ( ), meaning people who live in mainland China.

In Hong Kong and Macau

In Hong Kong and Macau, the term "mainland China" and "mainlander" is 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, 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) and Immigration Departments.

In mainland China

In the PRC, the term 內地 ("Inland") is often separated by the external term (國外) or (外國) 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).

In Hainan

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


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

Pinyin Jyutping Description
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 Taiwanmarker")
海峡两岸 海峽兩岸 Hǎixiá liǎng'àn hoi2 haap6 loeng5 ngon6 The physical shores on both sides of the straits, "two shores" may be used.
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 Hong Kong/Macau (港澳/港澳).
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


  2. Jeshurun, Chandran. [1993] (1993). China, India, Japan and the Security of Southeast Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 9813016612. pg 146.
  3. 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.
  4. LegCo. " Legislative council HK." Mainland Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Bill. Retrieved on 2008-03-10.
  5. "" Taiwan's Identity Politics. Retrieved on 2008-03-10.
  6. "" Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. Retrieved on 2008-03-10.
  7. Chinese version, English version, Statistics on Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (输入内地人才计划数据资料), Immigration Department .

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