Time in China
The time in China follows a single standard time offset of UTC+08:00, which is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, despite China spanning five geographical time zones. The official national standard time is called Beijing Time (Chinese: 北京时间) domestically and China Standard Time (CST) internationally.
The special administrative regions (SARs) maintain their own time authorities, with standards called Hong Kong Time (香港時間) and Macau Standard Time (澳門標準時間). There is no difference between Beijing time and the times in the SARs.
In 1912, the Republic of China established five standard time zones, namely Kunlun (UTC+05:30), Sinkiang-Tibet (UTC+06:00), Kansu-Szechwan (UTC+07:00), Chungyuan (UTC+08:00), and Changpai (UTC+08:30).
After the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the People’s Republic of China abolished the five time zones system and established one single time zone (UTC+08:00) called Beijing Time or China Standard Time for the entire country. The unified time zone policy was adopted by the Communist Party of China or the Central People’s 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.
In 1997 and 1999, Hong Kong and Macau were transferred to China from the United Kingdom and Portugal and they were established as special administrative regions. Although the sovereignty of the SARs belongs to China, they retain their own policies regarding time zones for historical reasons. Due to their geographical locations, both are within the UTC+08:00 time zone, which is the same as the national standard — Beijing time.
|Location||County||Province||1 January||1 July|
|Westernmost||Zanda||Tibet||09:41 – 19:49||07:40 – 21:50|
|Easternmost||Fuyuan||Heilongjiang||06:54 – 15:18||03:05 – 19:08|
Regions with special time regulations
The Xinjiang Time, or known as Ürümqi Time (Chinese: 乌鲁木齐时间; pinyin: Wūlǔmùqí Shíjiān), is set due to its geographical location in the westernmost part of the country. The time offset is UTC+06:00 which is two hours behind Beijing, and is shared with Kazakhstan.
Currently, the timezone usage within Xinjiang roughly split along the ethnicity divide, with most ethnic Han population in the area follow the Beijing time and most ethnic Uyghur population in the area follow the Ürümqi Time. Some local authorities are now using both time standard side by side. The coexistence of two timezones within same region caused some confusion among local population especially when inter-racial communication occur, and whenever a time is mentioned, it is necessary to either explicitly make clear whether the time is Xinjiang Time or Beijing Time, or convert the time according to ethnicity of the target you are speaking to, in order to avoid the confusion between the two time standard. The double time standard is particularly observable in Xinjiang Television, which schedule its Chinese channel according to Beijing time and its Uyghur and Kazakh channels according to Xinjiang time.  Some ethnic Han population in Xinjiang might not be aware of the existence of the UTC+6 Xinjiang Time because of language barrier.
Beijing Time users in Xinjiang would usually schedule their daily activities two hours later than those who live in eastern China. As such, stores and offices in Xinjiang are commonly opening from 10am to 7pm Beijing Time, which equals 8am to 5pm in Ürümqi Time. This is known as the work/rest time in Xinjiang.
In most area of Xinjiang, the opening time of local authority would be additionally modified by shifting the morning session 30–60 minutes backward and the afternoon session 30 minutes forward to extend the lunch break for 60–90 minutes, so as to avoid the immense heat during noon time in the area during summer.
Hong Kong maintains its own time authority after transfer of sovereignty in 1997. The Hong Kong Time (Chinese: 香港時間; pinyin: Xiānggǎng Shíjiān; Cantonese Yale: Hēunggóng sìgaan) is UTC+08:00 all 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 Hong Kong Observatory using a 6-inch Lee Equatorial and a 3-inch Transit Circle.
Macau maintains its own time authority after transfer of sovereignty in 1999. The Macau 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
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||—||Historically Chungyuan time zone|
|CN||+4545+12641||Asia/Harbin||Heilongjiang (except Mohe), Jilin||UTC+08:00||—||Historical Changpai time zone|
|CN||+2934+10635||Asia/Chongqing||central China - Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Shaanxi, Guizhou, etc.||UTC+08:00||—||Historical Kansu-Szechwan time zone|
|CN||+4348+08735||Asia/Urumqi||most of Tibet & Xinjiang||UTC+06:00||—||Historical Sinkiang-Tibet time zone|
|CN||+3929+07559||Asia/Kashgar||west Tibet & Xinjiang||UTC+06:00||—||Historical Kunlun time zone|
|HK||+2217+11409||Asia/Hong_Kong||UTC+08:00||—||SAR of China|
|MO||+2214+11335||Asia/Macau||UTC+08:00||—||SAR of China|
- "冷知识："北京时间"的由来". 新华网. 2015-11-03. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- GUO, Qing-sheng (2001). "中国标准时制考" [A Study on the Standard Time Changes for the Past 100 Years in China] (PDF). China Historical Materials of Science and Technology (in Chinese). 22 (3): 269–280. 1000-0798(2001)03-0269-12. Retrieved 2016-12-09.中国标准时制考
- Schiavenza, Matt (5 November 2013). "China Only Has One Time Zone—and That's a Problem". The Atlantic. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- Kilpatrick, Ryan (26 February 2015). "This is what China would look like if it actually followed solar time". That's. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- Guo, Qingsheng (2003) "Beijing Time at the Beginning of PRC", China Historical Materials of Science and Technology 24(1)
- "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.
- "NOAA Solar Calculator". NOAA. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- "Bending Time in Xinjiang".
- "作息时间". Archived from the original on 12 October 2014.
- "10点日出，半夜吃饭，在新疆用北京时间的烦恼". 纽约时报中文网国际纵览. 17 June 2016.
- "【城市】乌鲁木齐：没有屋顶的博物馆". 南方周末.
- "Clocks square off in China's far west". Los Angeles Times. 31 March 2009.
- Luther Ma's note in IANA timezone database file
- "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
- Macau Standard Time Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau
- "O SERVIÇO DE <<HORA EXACTA>> NA INTERNET". Smg.gov.mo. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
- Government departments responsible for time services