With the approval of Premier Li Keqiang, the State Council, China's Cabinet, released a regulation on the management of administrative divisions on Nov 1.
The regulation calls for strengthened Party leadership over the management of administrative divisions — boundaries of cities or counties, for example — and for paying due attention to coordinating urban and rural areas where administrative divisions need adjusting.
"Major adjustments of administrative divisions should be reported in a timely manner to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China," the regulation said.
It also requires more standardized management, with adjustment of city-level divisions to be approved by the State Council and adjustment of township-level divisions approved by the provincial-level government and reported to the State Council.
Local authorities must finish any adjustments within 12 months after approval, with a six-month extension allowed in complex situations.
Those who adjust administrative divisions without authorization or without reporting such changes to higher authorities, will be held legally accountable.
The regulation will take effect on Jan 1.
Tang Chengpei, vice-minister of civil affairs, said administrative divisions should remain stable, but changes can be made when they are conducive to the building of a society or needed for ease of administrative management, national unity or national defense.
The establishment, revocation and changes to administrative divisions must take full consideration of economic development, resources, environment, culture, history, geographic location and governing ability, he said.
Liu Zheng, director of the department in the Ministry of Civil Affairs that deals with administrative divisions and names, noted that "administrative divisions are closely associated with people's daily lives, and the first six numbers of our ID card represent the code number of the administrative region in which we live."
Some changes have been made in recent years to administrative divisions, including in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province, to better serve the integrated and coordinated development of the region. Changes have also been made to some administrative divisions in Shanghai, Wuhan and Chongqing to promote the development of world-class industry clusters in the Yangtze River Economic Belt, Liu said.