Time in China

Time in China

China spans across five different standard time zones, from UTC+05:00 in the west to UTC+09:00 in the east, yet since 1949 China has only had a single standard time at UTC+08:00. The time UTC+06:00 is also used unofficially in Xinjiang and Tibet. Historically under the Republic of China it was divided into five time zones.

In mainland China this standard time is called Beijing Time (北京时间) domestically but it is commonly referred to as 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) or Taiwan Standard Time (台灣標準時間).



The time zones of the Republic of China, used on the mainland from 1912 to 1949.
A (theoretical) map of the times zones of the People's Republic of China, before enforcing Beijing Time nationwide.

Time zones were first set up and 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.[citation needed] A summer time was observed in 1919 in Tianjin and Shanghai, and parts of China from 1935 to 1962.[citation needed]

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, Hong Kong and 1999, Macau had, respectively, been colonies of the United Kingdom and Portugal. 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 still claimed that it had sovereignty over mainland China, the time zones that were assigned in 1912 are still in use in the view of the Government of 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.[1]

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.[2]

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. 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, regardless of the ethnicity of the speaker.[3]

Hong Kong

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[4] (Chinese: 澳門標準時間; Portuguese: Hora Oficial de Macau[5] ) 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.[citation needed]

tz database

Current and former Chinese territory is covered in the tz database by the following zones.

Map showing the tz database time zones in the PRC.

Columns marked with * are from the tz 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 - Covering PRC parts of historic Chungyuan time zone.(UTC+08:00)
CN +4545+12641 Asia/Harbin Heilongjiang (except Mohe), Jilin tUTC+08:00 - Covering historic Changpai time zone.(UTC+08:30)
CN +2934+10635 Asia/Chongqing central China - Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Shaanxi, Guizhou, etc. tUTC+08:00 - Covering PRC parts of historic Kansu-Szechuan time zone.(UTC+07:00)
CN +4348+08735 Asia/Urumqi most of Tibet & Xinjiang tUTC+08:00 - Covering PRC parts of historic Sinkiang-Tibet time zone.(UTC+06:00)
CN +3929+07559 Asia/Kashgar west Tibet & Xinjiang tUTC+08:00 - Covering PRC parts of historic Kunlun time zone. (UTC+05:30)
HK +2217+11409 Asia/Hong_Kong tUTC+08:00 -
MN +4755+10653 Asia/Ulaanbaatar most locations tUTC+08:00 -
MN +4801+09139 Asia/Hovd Bayan-Olgiy, Govi-Altai, Hovd, Uvs, Zavkhan sUTC+07:00 -
MN +4804+11430 Asia/Choibalsan Dornod, Sukhbaatar tUTC+08:00 -
MO +2214+11335 Asia/Macau tUTC+08:00 -
TW +2503+12130 Asia/Taipei tUTC+08:00 - Covering ROC parts of historic Chungyuan time


  1. ^ "Chinese political advisors make suggestions on resource saving". Chinese Government's Official Web Portal. People's Republic of China. 2007-07-07. http://www.gov.cn/english/2007-07/07/content_675959.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-26. "China tried out summer time from 1986 to 1991." 
  2. ^ Guo, Qingsheng (2003) "Beijing Time at the Beginning of PRC", China Historical Materials of Science and Technology 24(1)
  3. ^ "The Working-Calendar for The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Government". The Government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Region of China. http://www.xinjiang.gov.cn/10018/10008/00017/2005/22694.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-26. "Urumqi Time (GMT+6) is 2 hours behind Beijing Time" 
  4. ^ Macao Standard Time, Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau
  5. ^ "O SERVIÇO DE <<HORA EXACTA>> NA INTERNET". Smg.gov.mo. http://www.smg.gov.mo/www/geo/time_service/p_i_timeservice.htm. Retrieved 2011-03-27. 

External links

Government departments responsible for time services:

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