Ranking of the administrative rule making power

The central people's government (the State Council), the ministries, and the organs promulgate administrative regulations and rules that either apply throughout the country or to specific sectors of the country, in descending order of authority.

Level Administrative law making bodies Regulations, rules, notices and circulars Examples
III The State Council (the Central People's Government)
  • Enacts its own regulations, 
  • Enacts detailed implementation regulations for the law made by the National People's Congress 
  • The PRC VAT Tentative Regulations;
  • The detailed implementation regulation of the PRC wholly foreign owned enterprise law.
IV Ministry of Commerce;
Ministry of Finance
  • Issues its own rules, and 
  • Issues detailed implementation rules for the Regulations made by the State Council
  • The Notice of Relevant Issues concerning Foreign Invested Joint Stock Company.
  • The detailed implementation rules of the PRC VAT Tentative Regulations.
IV State Administration of Industry and Commerce
  • Issues its own rules, and
  • Issues detailed implementation rules for the Regulations made by the State Council
Tentative Provisions for the capital and total investment ratio concerning Sino-foreign equity joint venture, 1987-1-1
V The State Administration of Foreign Exchange
  • Issues circulars on its own, and 
  • Issues detailed implementations for the rules made by ministries or commissions
Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) concerning the foreign exchange administration by QFII.

Local government issues regulations, rules, and documents with administrative binding force that apply to the government of specific areas in the country in descending order of authority.

The governments of the special economic zones are empowered to enact regulations on their own that apply to the special economic zones only.

  Local Government Provinces or cities Examples
III The provincial government Guangdong The Decision concerning science and technology awards for year 2001
IV The municipalities directly under the State Council Shanghai municipality Certain Provisions Relating to the Implementation of Property Registration in Shanghai Municipality, 2003-4-23
IV Municipalities where the seat of governance of the province are located, and larger cities as approved by the State Council Guangzhou municipality The Rule Making Method of the Government of Guangzhou City, 2002-9-25
V Governments of the Special economic zones Shenzhen city The Method for the Protection of Minimum Living Standards for Residents within Shenzhen City


Classification between local legislative regulations and administrative rules

China is a vast country with a large geographic and demographic dispersion. The local government has to deal with a variety of problems in the citizen's daily life, work, and other social and economic issues. In addition, the Chinese citizens speak different languages, having different living standards and education levels. So the regulations and rules by local legislative and administrative bodies might be thousands and thousands.

When dealing with the regulations, provisions, rules, decisions, notices, or methods, one can refer to the rule-making body to determine whether they are made by the local legislative or the administrative body.


  • The Fire Regulation of Shanghai Municipality (2003.6.26) is a piece of legislative regulation because it is enacted by the people's congress of the Shanghai Municipality. Accordingly the regulation has a level IV legal authority. Similarly, the Guangdong Provincial High Way Regulations (2003-1-11) is also a piece of legislative regulation as it is made by the people's congress of the Guangdong province. However, if these two pieces of regulations were made by the governments of Shanghai and Guangdong respectively, then they would have a lower level of authority (level V) and will be subject to amendment or revocation by the people's congresses on grounds of conflicts with the regulations made by the local people's congress. 
  • The Shenzhen Free Trade Zone Regulations on the other hand is a piece of legislative regulations enacted by the people's congress of the Shenzhen special economic zone. It has a level V legal authority. Had it been made by the Shenzhen government, it will have a lower level of authority (i.e. level VI).