Based on the National Land Use/Cover Database of China (NLUD-C) in the end of the 1980s (the 1980s, hereafter), 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010, 665 cities were selected to study the size distribution and its changes of urban lands in China. In this study, the spatiotemporal evolutions of urban land size distribution as well as the influence of administrative-level on these cities were explored by combining urban spatial positions and administrative-levels. Results indicate that:1) City size distribution using urban lands was more practical and reasonable than using non-agricultural population. 2) In the 1980s, cities with ascending urban land rank were centralized in Eastern China, specially the Changjiang (Yangtze) River Delta, the Zhujiang (Pearl) River Delta, and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Cities in Central, Western, and Northeast China mainly indicated descending urban land rank. 3) The transfer of national development focus resulted in cities with ascending urban land rank becoming evenly distributed nationwide; however, this trend was slightly centralized around Chengdu, Chongqing, and Wuhan in different periods. 4) During the 1980s to 2010, the proportion of cities with ascending urban land rank in provincial capitals, municipalities, and special administrative regions (high-level cities, hereafter) was consistently higher than those in prefecture-and county-level cities except for 2005-2010. The ranks of the majority of the prefecture-and county-level cities were mainly descending, supported by ascending; the proportion of cities with unchanged rank is small. This study breaks through the bottleneck of traditional research in the area of city size distribution by examining urban land replacing the non-agricultural population. The current study also provides scientific explanation for the healthy and reasonable development of urban land as well as the coordinated development of population urbanization and land urbanization.