when did China adopt one time zone?

Thomas S. Mullaney tsmullaney at stanford.edu
Fri Feb 8 20:53:51 UTC 2008

Dear Paul,

Thanks for your email. The dating of "Beijing Time" is a little 
tricky, but thanks to Guo Qingsheng, a scholar and engineer at the 
Chinese Academy of Sciences Shaanxi Observatory, we know that the 
implementation of Beijing Time must have come after September 27, 
1949 - the date on which the official name of Beiping (Northern 
Peace) was changed to Beijing (Northern Capital) - and some time 
before October 7 - the date of the earliest source which Guo has 
found containing the term "Beijing Time."

This is a project I started thinking about this past summer - a 
fascinating topic, no?


Tom Mullaney

>In a book review in today's issue of _Science_ you reported that the
>Chinese government in 1949 opted to observe one time zone.  This
>caught my interest because I help maintain the tz database, which
>records histories of time zone and daylight saving changes all over
>the world.  The tz database is used by computer clocks all over the
>world, including what I expect are millions of clocks in China, so I'd
>like to get the details right.
>Here's the problem: the tz database, following Shanks & Pottenger
>(2003), records that the China switched to a single time zone on May
>1, 1980, not in 1949.  Since you are a historian of China I expect
>that you have a lot better sources than we do.  Can you please mention
>the sources for the claim that the clocks changed in 1949 rather than
>in 1980?
>Thanks for any info you can provide.  I'll CC: this message to the tz
>database mailing list, to give them a heads-up on this query.
>-- Paul Eggert, UCLA Computer Science Dept.
>Thomas S. Mullaney, Change of time over changing time.  Science 319
>(5864), 729 (2008-02-08), DOI: 10.1126/science.1152851,
>Paul Eggert & Arthur David Olson, Sources for time zone and daylight
>saving time data <http://www.twinsun.com/tz/tz-link.htm> (2007-12-31);
>also see <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoneinfo>.
>Thomas G. Shanks and Rique Pottenger, The International Atlas (6th
>edition).  San Diego: ACS Publications, Inc. (2003).


Thomas S. Mullaney
Assistant Professor
Modern Chinese History

Department of History
Stanford University
450 Serra Mall, Bld 200
Stanford, CA 94305-2024

T (650) 736-8386
F (650) 725-0597
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