Time in China
Time in China follows a single standard time of UTC+08:00, which is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. China geographically spans five time zones and there were five time zones in use during the Republic of China (1912–1949). Since 1949 all of China has only had a single standard time, but UTC+06:00 is also used unofficially in Xinjiang and Tibet.
In Mainland China, standard time is called Beijing Time (北京时间) domestically and China Standard Time (CST) internationally. In Hong Kong it is called Hong Kong Time; in Macau it is called Macau Standard Time; and in Taiwan it is officially called National Standard Time (國家標準時間) and also Chungyuan Standard Time (中原標準時間, Central Standard Time).
Time zones were first made official in China in 1912 under the Republic of China. The country was divided into five time zones, namely GMT+5.5, GMT+6, GMT+7, GMT+8 and GMT+8.5. Before that, time varied, while astrological predictions were conducted according to the time standard based on the locations of then capitals of the imperial dynasties. A summer time was observed in 1919 in Tianjin and Shanghai, and from 1935 to 1962 in parts of China.
After the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the People’s Republic of China established one single time zone (UTC+8) for the entirety of its claimed territories, while the Republic of China continued to place the remaining territories of Taiwan under the UTC+8 time zone. Although the two had different policies, they were all placed under the same time zone.
Until 1997 and 1999, Hong Kong and Macau had been colonies of the United Kingdom and Portugal, respectively. Despite being part of the People’s Republic of China today, as special administrative regions they have retained their own policies regarding time zones over the respective regions. Due to their geographical locations, both are within the GMT/UTC+8 time zone.
1912 to 1949
In 1912, the Central Observatory of the Republic of China in Peking (now romanised as Beijing) divided the country into five time zones, namely Kunlun Time Zone (GMT+5.5), Sinkiang-Tibet Time Zone (GMT+6), Kansu-Szechuan Time Zone (GMT+7). Chungyuan Standard Time Zone (GMT+8), and Changpai Time Zone (GMT+8.5). These time zones were ratified in 1939 in the standard time conference of the Ministry of Interior of the Executive Yuan.
These time zones were no longer in effective use after 1949 when the PRC was established on mainland China, as the new government had its own policies regarding the time zones on mainland China. However, as the ROC which had retreated to Taiwan. Some government departments on Taiwan still refer to the time on Taiwan as “Central Standard Time”.
People’s Republic of China
After the Chinese Civil War, in 1949, a unified time zone—GMT+8—was established by the People’s Republic of China for all its territories, called Beijing Time (sometimes known as Chinese Standard Time). Daylight saving time was observed from 1986 to 1991.
The unified time zone policy was adopted by the Communist Party of China or the People’s Republic government some time between 27 September 1949, and 6 October 1949; the exact date is unknown. However, recent research suggests that the policy was most likely adopted on 27 September 1949.
As an illustration of the wide range, the daylight hours for the PRC’s westernmost, not including Xinjiang due to local customs (see below), and easternmost county seats are included:
|1 January||1 July|
|Zanda County, Tibet||09:41–19:49||07:40–21:50|
|Fuyuan County, Heilongjiang||06:54–15:18||03:05–19:08|
Although the only official time zone in the PRC is Beijing Time, the People’s Congress of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, due to its geographical location in the westernmost part of the country, proclaimed Ürümqi Time (UTC+6), two hours behind Beijing. Although this is not officially recognized, it is the time observed locally by most residents and local authorities. Most stores and government offices in Xinjiang have modified opening hours, commonly running from 10am to 7pm Beijing Time. Times for buses, trains, and other public transportation are often given in Xinjiang time or the parallel use of both Xinjiang time and Beijing time, regardless of the ethnicity of the speaker.
As a Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong maintains its own time. The Hong Kong Time is UTC+08:00 year round, without daylight saving observation. Greenwich Mean Time was adopted as the basis in 1904, and UTC was adopted as a standard in 1972. Before that, local time was determined by astronomical observations at the Hong Kong Observatory using a 6-inch Lee Equatorial and a 3-inch Transit Circle.
As a Special Administrative Region Macau maintains its own time. Macao Standard Time (Chinese: 澳門標準時間; pinyin: Àomén Biāozhǔn Shíjiān; Portuguese: Hora Oficial de Macau) is the time in Macau. The time is UTC+08:00 all year round, and daylight saving time is not applied. There was daylight saving time in the past.
IANA time zone database
Current and former Chinese territory is covered in the IANA time zone database by the following zones.
Columns marked with * are from the file zone.tab of the database.
|c.c.*||coordinates*||TZ*||comments*||Standard time||Summer time||Notes|
|CN||+3114+12128||Asia/Shanghai||east China - Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai, etc.||UTC+08:00||—||Covering PRC parts of historic Chungyuan time zone.(UTC+08:00)|
|CN||+4545+12641||Asia/Harbin||Heilongjiang (except Mohe), Jilin||UTC+08:00||—||Covering historic Changpai time zone.(UTC+08:30)|
|CN||+2934+10635||Asia/Chongqing||central China - Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Shaanxi, Guizhou, etc.||UTC+08:00||—||Covering PRC parts of historic Kansu-Szechuan time zone.(UTC+07:00)|
|CN||+4348+08735||Asia/Urumqi||most of Tibet & Xinjiang||UTC+08:00||—||Covering PRC parts of historic Sinkiang-Tibet time zone.(UTC+06:00)|
|CN||+3929+07559||Asia/Kashgar||west Tibet & Xinjiang||UTC+08:00||—||Covering PRC parts of historic Kunlun time zone. (UTC+05:30)|
|TW||+2503+12130||Asia/Taipei||UTC+08:00||—||Covering ROC parts of historic Chungyuan time|
- "Chinese political advisors make suggestions on resource saving". Chinese Government's Official Web Portal. People’s Republic of China. 7 July 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2008. "China tried out summer time from 1986 to 1991."
- Guo, Qingsheng (2003) "Beijing Time at the Beginning of PRC", China Historical Materials of Science and Technology 24(1)
- "NOAA Solar Calculator". NOAA. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- "The Working-Calendar for The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Government". The Government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. Archived from the original on 4 Dec 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2008. "Urumqi Time (GMT+6) is 2 hours behind Beijing Time"
- Bending Time in Xinjiang
- Macao Standard Time, Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau
- "O SERVIÇO DE <<HORA EXACTA>> NA INTERNET". Smg.gov.mo. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
- Government departments responsible for time services
- National Time Service Center, the Chinese Academy of Sciences
- Hong Kong Observatory (Hong Kong)
- Direccão dos Servicos Meteorológicos e Geofisicos (Macau)