FW: when did China adopt one time zone?

Thomas S. Mullaney tsmullaney at stanford.edu
Mon Feb 11 20:49:25 UTC 2008

I think you're combining two subjects that need to treated 
separately: daylight savings (which, you're correct, wasn't 
implemented until the 1980s) and the unified time zone centered near 
Beijing (which was implemented in 1949). Briefly, there was also a 
"Lhasa Time" in Tibet and "Urumqi Time" in Xinjiang. The first was 
ceased, and the second eventually recognized (again, in the 1980s).

At 11:50 AM -0800 2/11/08, Paul Eggert wrote:
>  > From: Thomas S. Mullaney [mailto:tsmullaney at stanford.edu]
>>  Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 3:55
>>  This is a project I started thinking about this past summer - a
>>  fascinating topic, no?
>Yes, quite addictive....
>Perhaps there is a confusion between two different topics here.  The
>tz database is mostly concerned with the actual clock settings; it
>doesn't record (except in comments) whether the time zone is called
>"Beijing Time" or "Beiping Time" or something else.  Historically,
>Beijing Time (under whatever name) covered just part of the territory
>of China; the question the tz database is concerned with is when this
>was expanded to include the whole country.  You can find a map of the
>old "Beiping Time" (perhaps "Chungyuan Time" is a better name) zone in
><http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_in_China>.  What's missing is when
>that time zone expanded to included the whole country.
>I just now checked Google News for western news sources that talk
>about China's single time zone, and couldn't find anything before 1986
>talking about China being in one time zone.  (That article was: Jim
>Mann, "A clumsy embrace for another western custom: China on daylight
>time--sort of", Los Angeles Times, 1986-05-05.  By the way, this
>article confirms the tz database's data claiming that China began
>observing daylight saving time in 1986.)
>Obviously this simple search isn't conclusive, as it doesn't include
>reliable Chinese sources; still, it is not at all clear from the data
>mentioned above that China switched to a single time zone in 1949.


Thomas S. Mullaney
Assistant Professor
Modern Chinese History

Department of History
Stanford University
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Stanford, CA 94305-2024

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