Time in China

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The time in China follows a single standard time offset of UTC+08:00 (eight hours ahead of Coordinated Universal 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.[citation needed] Daylight saving time has not been observed since 1991.[1]

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). These have been equivalent to Beijing time since 1992.

In addition, a second time standard is used in Xinjiang, two hours less than the Beijing Time (UTC+06:00), which is called Ürümqi Time (乌鲁木齐时间) or Xinjiang Time (新疆时间).[2][3]


Obsoleted time zones used from 1939 to 1949

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).[4][5]

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.[4] 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.[6]

Daylight saving time was observed from 1986 to 1991.[7]

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.

As an illustration of the wide range, the daylight hours for the Chinese westernmost—not including Xinjiang due to local customs (see below)—and easternmost county seats are included:[8]

Division Daylight 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


In Xinjiang, two time standards, namely, Beijing Time and Xinjiang Time, are used in parallel.[2][3]

Xinjiang Time, also 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.[9] The time offset is UTC+06:00, which is two hours behind Beijing, and is shared with neighbouring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Currently, timezone usage within Xinjiang is roughly split along the ethnic divide, with most ethnic Han following Beijing time and most ethnic Uyghurs following Ürümqi Time.[10] Some local authorities are now using both time standard side by side.[11][12]

The coexistence of two timezones within the same region causes some confusion among the local population, especially when inter-racial communication occur. When a time is mentioned in conversation between Han and Uyghur, it is necessary to either explicitly make clear whether the time is in Xinjiang Time or Beijing Time, or convert the time according to the ethnicity of the other party.[13][14][15] The double time standard is particularly observable in Xinjiang Television, which schedules its Chinese channel according to Beijing time and its Uyghur and Kazakh channels according to Xinjiang time. [16] Some ethnic Han in Xinjiang might not be aware of the existence of the UTC+6 Xinjiang Time because of language barrier.[17]

Regardless, Beijing Time users in Xinjiang 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.[18] This is known as the work/rest time in Xinjiang.[19]

In most area of Xinjiang, the opening time of local authority is 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 intense heat during noon time in the area during summer.[12]

Hong Kong

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, and daylight saving time has not been used since 1979.[20] 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[21] (Chinese: 澳門標準時間; pinyin: Àomén Biāozhǔn Shíjiān; Portuguese: Hora Oficial de Macau[22]) is the time in Macau. The time is UTC+08:00 all year round, and daylight saving time has not been used since 1980.[23]

IANA time zone database

Map showing the IANA time zone database zones in China

The territory of the Peoples Republic of China 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. tUTC+08:00 Historically Chungyuan time zone
CN +4545+12641 Asia/Harbin Heilongjiang (except Mohe), Jilin tUTC+08:00 Historical Changpai time zone
CN +2934+10635 Asia/Chongqing central China - Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Shaanxi, Guizhou, etc. tUTC+08:00 Historical Kansu-Szechwan time zone
CN +4348+08735 Asia/Urumqi most of Tibet & Xinjiang tUTC+06:00 Historical Sinkiang-Tibet time zone
CN +3929+07559 Asia/Kashgar west Tibet & Xinjiang tUTC+06:00 Historical Kunlun time zone
HK +2217+11409 Asia/Hong_Kong tUTC+08:00 SAR of China
MO +2214+11335 Asia/Macau tUTC+08:00 SAR of China

See also


  1. timeanddate.com, Daylight Saving Time in China
  2. 2.0 2.1 "冷知识:"北京时间"的由来". 新华网. 3 November 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 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 中文). 22 (3): 269–280. 1000-0798(2001)03-0269-12. Retrieved 9 December 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>中国标准时制考
  4. 4.0 4.1 Schiavenza, Matt (5 November 2013). "China Only Has One Time Zone—and That's a Problem". The Atlantic. Retrieved 12 March 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Kilpatrick, Ryan (26 February 2015). "This is what China would look like if it actually followed solar time". That's. Retrieved 12 March 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Guo, Qingsheng (2003) "Beijing Time at the Beginning of PRC", China Historical Materials of Science and Technology 24(1)
  7. "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "NOAA Solar Calculator". NOAA. Retrieved 14 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "【讀書時間】在時間的悟透里跋涉或存在".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Bending Time in Xinjiang".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 "作息时间". Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "【城市】乌鲁木齐:没有屋顶的博物馆". 南方周末.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Clocks square off in China's far west". Los Angeles Times. 31 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 北京时间的概念
  17. Luther Ma's note in IANA timezone database file
  18. "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 December 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2008. Urumqi Time (GMT+6) is 2 hours behind Beijing Time<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. http://news.163.com/14/0117/18/9IQH4FIR00014JB6.html?f=jsearch
  20. timeanddate.com, Daylight Saving Time in Hong Kong
  21. Macau Standard Time Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau
  22. "O SERVIÇO DE <<HORA EXACTA>> NA INTERNET". Smg.gov.mo. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2011. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. timeanddate.com, Daylight Saving Time in Macau

External links

Government departments responsible for time services