why does china have only one time zone

As with every other day, sunrise will be welcomed into Beijing tomorrow by a flag raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square. As the honour guard hoist the flag at approximately 06:24, 1,000 miles away in Fuyuan County, one of ChinaБs easternmost points, the sun will have already graced the sky for 63 minutes. 2,200 miles west however, in XinjiangБs Kashgar, residents will have to wait until 09:05 for sunrise. Nobody likes heading to work when itБs still dark outside, so
Б Beijing Standard Time (BST), also known as China Standard Time (CST)? China is nowadays the only large country other than India to have only one time zone and is the largest single time zone area in the world. In comparison, the United States, a country of similar geographical area to China, has four major time zones, each separated by an hour. Beijing Standard Time is calculated and released from the National Time Service Centre in Shaanxi Province, which is geographically almost the centre of China. It sits eight hours ahead of GMT and was implemented throughout China in 1949 after Mao Zedong decreed that it would aid Бnational unityБ. As Beijing ЕД (Е north Д capital) was proclaimed from Nanjing ЕД (Е south Д capital) to be the new capital of China, the new time zone was created to bear its name. Prior to 1949, China had seen decades of regional conflicts and a major civil war. It had five official time zones, which ranged from five and a half to eight and a half hours ahead of GMT. These time zones Zhongyuan, Longshu, Tibet, Kunlun and Changbai were established in 1912, the year after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. When the Communist Party took control in 1949, it viewed the creation of a sense of unification and centralisation as vital to restoring the country.


One time zone would allow a national work schedule (important during the times of communal work units), for news to be broadcast at the same time throughout the country, and for no confusion differentiating between time zones. For the most part, the single time zone in China is viewed as a minor inconvenience Б a quirk that requires small adjustments. Farmers and others who work by the sun simply set their own time schedules. Therefore, unless desperate to catch the latest episode of Chinese Idol, there is little need for preoccupation with the national standard. The further west you head, however, and the picture paints a different tale. Much of the Uighur population prefer to use their own unofficial time zone, which is two hours behind official Chinese time. So widely accepted is the unofficial time in some regions in XinjiangБs extreme west, close to ChinaБs border with Pakistan, Beijing Standard Time is reportedly not even listed on bus timetables. Here, where it isnБt uncommon for residents to be pictured enjoying sunset at midnight Beijing Standard Time, a single time zone is viewed as more than just an impracticality Б it is viewed as a political unnecessity. ItБs also sure to confuse any tourist unfamiliar with the local custom! Perhaps fortunately, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau all fall within BeijingБs time zone, although they do not technically adhere to Beijing Standard Time. Hong Kong and Macau use Hong Kong Time (HKT) and Macau Standard Time (MST), while Taiwan uses Taiwan Time Zone (TTZ). In a world of overnight transatlantic travel and 24/7 work schedules, the importance of time zones mayб slowly fade. It is, however, interesting to know the history that surrounds ChinaБs use of a single time zone.


One thing s for sure itб certainly makes it easier to arrange international business calls to China, with no need to worry about local time zone changes! In the 1870s, the was constructed by a French catholic missionary. In 1880s officials in started to provide a time announcement service using the Shanghai Mean Solar Time provided by the aforementioned observatory for ships into and out of Shanghai. By the end of 19th century, the time standard provided by the observatory had been switched to GMT+8. The practice has spread to other coastal ports, and in 1902 the "Coastal Time" was proposed to be the universal timezone for all the coastal ports in China. However, the timezone for the rest of China remained undetermined. Until 1913, the official time standard for the whole of China was still the of Beijing, the capital of the country at the time. Starting in 1914, the government began adopting the Beijing Local Mean Solar Time as the official time standard. By 1918, five standard time zones had been proposed by the Central Observatory of of Republic of China, including the Kunlun ( ), Sinkiang-Tibet ( ), Kansu-Szechwan ( ), Chungyuan ( ), and Changpai ( ). After the defeat of Beiyang government in 1928, the mission of the Central Observatory was moved to Nanjing, and the reference time standard used for the construction of was shifted from Beijing Mean Solar Time to GMT+8. In 1930s, the proposed five timezones had not been fully observed, causing regions in inner China area to adopt their own time standards, resulting in chaos. On 9 March 1939, when the Ministry of the Interior organized a Standard Time Conference in Chongqing, it was decided to adopt the five timezone proposal with slight modification of their borders starting from 1 June, however it was also decided that the entire country would use the Kansu-Szechwan Time (GMT+7) during the which began at the time.


Following the end of, the five-timezone system was resumed, although there is little information about the historical usage of time in the and zones. A further refined system with adjustment to zone assignment in the Northwest part of was announced in 1947 for adoption in 1948. However, as the came to its end in 1949-1950, regional governments under the influence of Communist Party of China, other than those in Xinjiang and Tibet, switched to use the same time as Beijing, which is GMT+8, and is later known as Beijing Time or China Standard Time. There are two independent sources that claim the Communist Party of China, and/or the People's Republic of China, were using apparent solar time for Beijing Time before the period between 27 September 1949 and 6 October 1949, and they adopted the time of GMT+8 within that period of time, however such claim is dubious. The change in use of time in Tibet is undocumented but is known to use till at least mid-1950s, and the use of time in Xinjiang have been switched back and forth between GMT+6 and GMT+8 during the period of 1969 and 1986 and resulted in the current multiple time standard situation in the area. (see "Xinjiang" section below for detail) was observed from 1945 to 1948, and from 1986 to 1991. In 1997 and 1999, and were transferred to China from the and and they were established as. 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 time zone, which is the same as the national standard Б Beijing time.

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