Types of provincial-level divisions
The government of each standard province (Chinese: 省; pinyin: shěng) is nominally led by a provincial committee, headed by a secretary. The committee secretary is first-in-charge of the province; second-in-command is the governor of the provincial government.
China claims the island of Taiwan and its surrounding islets, including Penghu, as "Taiwan Province", though Taiwan has not been under control of a government that ruled from mainland China since 1949, when the Republic of China lost the mainland to the PRC. (Kinmen and the Matsu Islands are claimed by the PRC as part of its Fujian Province. Pratas and Itu Aba are claimed by the PRC as part of Guangdong and Hainan provinces respectively.) The territory is controlled by the Republic of China (ROC, commonly called "Taiwan").
A municipality (simplified Chinese: 直辖市; traditional Chinese: 直轄市; pinyin: zhíxiáshì; literally: "direct-administrated city") or direct-controlled municipality is a higher level of city which is directly under the Chinese government, with status equal to that of the provinces. In practice, their political status is higher than that of common provinces.
An autonomous region (simplified Chinese: 自治区; traditional Chinese: 自治區; pinyin: zìzhìqū) is a minority subject which has a higher population of a particular minority ethnic group along with its own local government, but an autonomous region theoretically has more legislative rights than in actual practice. The governor of each autonomous region is usually appointed from the respective minority ethnic group.
Special administrative region (SAR)
A special administrative region (SAR) (simplified Chinese: 特别行政区; traditional Chinese: 特別行政區; pinyin: tèbié xíngzhèngqū) is a highly autonomous and self-governing sub national subject of the People's Republic of China that is directly under the Central People's Government. Each SAR has a chief executive as head of the region and head of government. The region's government is not fully independent, as foreign policy and military defence are the responsibility of the central government, according to the basic laws.