Qingdao was called Jiao'ao in the past. In 1891, the Qing Government decided to establish a garrison in Jiao'ao, which marked the beginning of Qingdao as an administrative division in China. The next year, Zhang Gaoyuan, General-Commander of Dengzhou Town, stationed his troops in Jiao'ao. In November 1897, German troops occupied Jiao’ao under the pretext of the "Juye Religious Incident" and made Jiao’ao its colony. German included Shandong into its sphere of influence after forcing the Qing Dynasty to sign the Jiao’ao Concession Treaty on March 6, 1898. Soon after the outbreak of World War I in November 1914, Japanese replaced German to become the occupant of Jiao’ao and implemented the military colonial rule to the area.
After World War I, Chinese people fought bravely for the sovereignty over Qingdao. In 1919, the failure in restoring Chinese rule to Qingdao triggered the famous May 4th Movement, which forced Japanese to sign the Treaty to Resolve Unsettled Issues on Shandong with Chinese government on February 4, 1922. On December 10 of the same year, Jiao’ao was returned to China under the direct control of Beiyang Government. The latter established Jiao’ao Trade Port Administration and its administrative region was the same as German’s Jiao’ao Concession. In July 1929, Kuomintang Government took over Jiao’ao and designated it as a special city and renamed it as Qingdao City in 1930.
In January 1938, Japanese reoccupied Qingdao. In September 1945, Kuomintang Government took over Qingdao with the help of the United States and designated it as a special city again.
After its liberation on June 2, 1949, Qingdao was under the direct jurisdiction of Shandong Province. In 1981, Qingdao was designated one of the 15 economic central cities of China. In April 1984, Qingdao was selected as one of the 14 coastal open cities of China. On October 15, 1986, Qingdao was approved as a city specifically designated in the state plan and granted with provincial-level authority over economic administration by the State Council. In February 1994, Qingdao became one of the 15 deputy provincial cities of China.