A sub-provincial city (副省级城市), or vice-provincial city, in the People's Republic of China, is a city hierarchically lower than a province, but administered independently in regard to economy and law. The mayor of a sub-provincial city is equal in status to a vice-governor of a province. Its name is opposed to that of a municipality, which is also known as "provincial city" (省级市). The original 16 sub-provincial cities were created in on February 25, 1994 by the Central Organization Committee out of prefecture-level cities. They are sometimes the capitals of the provinces they are in.
Presently, there are 15 sub-provincial cities:
Harbin and Chengdu are the largest sub-provincial cities; each has a population exceeding that of the municipality of Tianjin.
The National Standing Committee of Sub-provincial Municipal People's Congresses' Chairmen Joint Conference (全国副省级城市人大常委会主任联席会议) are attended by the chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of all sub-provincial cities. It was proposed by Guangzhou Municipal People's Congress in 1985. The conferences: