[tz] China time zones 1949 - 1980: appeal to speakers of Mandarin

Luther Ma ma.lude.xj at gmail.com
Tue Apr 22 18:40:43 UTC 2014

I have interviewed numerous people of various nationalities and from different localities in Xinjiang and can confirm the information in Guo's report regarding Xinjiang, as well as the Time article reference by David Cochrane. 

Whether officially recognized or not (and both are officially recognized), two separate times have been in use in Xinjiang since at least the Cultural Revolution: Xinjiang Time (XJT), aka Urumqi Time or local time; and Beijing Time. 

There is no confusion in Xinjiang as to which name refers to which time. Both are widely used in the province, although in some population groups might be use one to the exclusion of the other. 

The only problem is that computers and smart phones list Urumqi (or Kashgar) as having the same time as Beijing. 

I don't know why this would be a very big problem to fix. Then users can choose to set their computers or cell phones to Beijing time if they want, or to Xinjiang time if they want (instead of choosing some other locality like Dacca, which works until they go on daylight time.)

Please fix this,

On Mar 24, 2014, at 2:26 PM, Gary How <hytar at outlook.com> wrote:

> Alois Treindl <alois <at> astro.ch> writes:
>> This seems to be a relevant source:
>> Guo, Qingsheng (2003) "Beijing Time at the Beginning of PRC", China 
>> Historical Materials of Science and Technology 24(1)
> Hi Alois and Paul, I purchased the journal article (finally after days of
> figuring out which service allows payment from outside China). From the
> points Alois raised in his recent email, I try to clarify by using that
> article, quoting/paraphrasing its English translation.
>> Various sources claim that this unified country-wide timezone was 
>> already introduced in 1949 or early 1950
> This particular source says the first meeting of the Chinese People's
> Political Consultative Conference passed the resolution of "making Beiping
> the capital, changing Beiping to Beijing." That was 27 September 1949. On
> the same day, Beiping Xinhua Radio was renamed with Beijing at the
> beginning. The next day, that station started using Beijing in its
> timekeeping call. The earliest written instance of "Beijing Time" found by
> the author was on 7 October 1949, through a newspaper posting from Xi'an
> People's Radio. That said, the author inferred that Beijing Time was
> established on 27 September 1949.
>> It seems to me that the only source claiming the continuation of 5 time 
>> zones for China is the International Atlas by Shanks and Pottenger. The 
>> overall work of these authors is extremely valuable, but they do not 
>> give a source for their China information.
>> Paul Eckert says in tz/asia file:
>> # From Paul Eggert (2008-06-30):
>> # There seems to be a good chance China switched to a single time zone 
>> in 1949
>> # rather than in 1980 as Shanks & Pottenger have it, but we don't have a
>> # reliable documentary source saying so yet, so for now we still go with
>> # Shanks & Pottenger.
> For time zones in the rest of China after that, Qing-sheng Guo has another
> journal article in 2001 that discussed these in detail, entitled "A Study on
> the Standard Time Changes for the Past 100 Years in China," from China
> Historical Materials of Science and Technology 22(3).
> Earlier I mentioned Xi'an radio station referencing Beijing Time. Another
> written source for this was from the Xi'an People's Government dated 2
> November 1949, announcing to stop using Longshu Time (aka Kansu-Szechuan
> Time, GMT+7) and change to Beijing Time from 3 November 1949 onwards.
>> 10/16/2010  by Jonathan.Hassid <at> uts.edu.au who writes:
>> "The government in Chengdu (capital of Sichuan province) announced the 
>> switch (from "Shulong" (Gansu/Sichuan) time) to Beijing time on 27 Dec. 
>> 1949.
> As for Chengdu, the date 27 December 1949 is stated in the article as "being
> liberated" during the Communist Revolution. The switch to Beijing Time "was
> announced ten days or so after that." The author referenced a notice from
> the Chengdu Garrison Command dated 6 January 1950, to request citizens to
> adjust their watches through daily sirens at noon Beijing Time. For most
> other parts of China, they "have used standard time of 120° longitude around
> the year 1950 to 1953." He dubbed it the "chaotic period", since no
> government agency announced and enforced this rule of time, instead the
> cities synced to the unified time at their pace.
> In the 2003 article, Guo obtained two independent sources that verified the
> Beijing Time of 1949 was using apparent/true solar time (GMT+7:56) and not
> mean solar time (7:46) or standard time of 120° longitude (8:00). However,
> he had doubts about that, since he thought apparent solar time is a step
> back to time measurements in the early 20th century, and standard time
> signals can be obtained easily from overseas stations at the time. The 1954
> Chinese Astronomical Almanac mentioned that "except Xinjiang and Tibet, the
> whole country uses standard time of 120° longitude." He has yet to find out
> exactly when did Beijing Time switch back to GMT+8 between 1949 and 1954 in
> the article. I will try to look for later articles that reference this work.
> For Tibet, the standard time of 90° longitude was used prior to March 1959,
> also known as Lhasa Time. After the Tibetan Uprising that month and the
> Panchen Lama took over, the author surmised that the transition from Lhasa
> Time to Beijing Time happened at the second half of 1959. He tried to look
> for "first-hand accounts" on this, but found none so far. On the other hand,
> Guo said time zone changes for Xinjiang is relatively well documented.
> The Revolutionary Committee of Xinjiang and Xinjiang military notified on 9
> June 1969, that starting from 1 July 1969, Beijing Time would be put into
> effect for the entire Xinjiang province. On 7 April 1975, the same committee
> put out a notice to be enforced on 1 May, that except military, rail-road,
> civil aviation, postal and telecommunication services, the schedules for
> government, factories, mines, businesses and schools would use Urumqi Time.
> Due to poor implementation of this notice, they again informed on 10 June
> 1977 that "schedules for work, meeting etc. should only use Urumqi Time for
> the whole province."
> In the end, the Xinjiang People's Government decided that starting 1
> February 1986, the entire province would use Urumqi Time. Whenever Beijing
> Time is used, they should be stated explicitly. According to Guo, this
> particular rule is more effectively put into practice. The question for tz
> database is whether the switch to Urumqi Time in Xinjiang is on 1975 (when
> it was first announced) or 1986 (when it was more commonly implemented).
> To conclude, all of China currently is in the UTC+8:00 time zone except for
> Xinjiang province, according to the articles. The central Chinese government
> still did not made a law to enforce the unified time zone, although it was
> widely accepted that China has one official time zone. Whether or not the
> locals all around China follow that standard time, we do not know for sure.
> The 2001 article by Guo also has details about Chinese time zones from the
> 1900s to 1949. We can start a new thread on this if necessary.

More information about the tz mailing list