Time in China

This article is about the time in the People's Republic of China. For the article about time in the Republic of China, see Time in Taiwan. For the traditional Chinese time keeping, see Chinese calendar § Hours of the day.

The time in China follows a single standard time offset of UTC+08:00, which is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, despite China spanning five geographical time zones. The official national standard time is called Beijing Time (Chinese: 北京时间) domestically and China Standard Time (CST) internationally. The special administrative regions (SARs) maintain their own time authorities, with standards called Hong Kong Time (Chinese: 香港時間) and Macau Standard Time (Chinese: 澳門標準時間) respectively. There is no difference between Beijing time and the times in the SARs. In addition, Xinjiang unofficially uses UTC+06:00, called Ürümqi Time (Chinese: 乌鲁木齐时间).


Obsoleted time zones used from 1939 to 1949

There was no nationwide time standard in China until the early 20th century. In imperial China, astrological predictions were conducted according to the time standard based on the locations of then capitals of the imperial dynasties. A summer time was observed in 1919 in Tianjin and Shanghai, and from 1935 to 1962 in parts of China.

In 1918, the Central Observatory of the Republic of China in Peking (now Beijing Ancient Observatory) proposed dividing the country into five time zones, namely Kunlun (UTC+05:30), Sinkiang-Tibet (UTC+06:00), Kansu-Szechwan (UTC+07:00), Chungyuan (UTC+08:00), and Changpai (UTC+08:30). These time zones were ratified in 1939 in the standard time conference of the Ministry of Interior of the Executive Yuan.

After the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the People’s Republic of China abolished the five time zones system and established one single time zone (UTC+08:00) called Beijing Time or China Standard Time for the entire country. The unified time zone policy was adopted by the Communist Party of China or the Central People’s 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.[1]

Daylight saving time was observed from 1986 to 1991.[2]

In 1997 and 1999, Hong Kong and Macau were transferred to China from the United Kingdom and Portugal and they were established as special administrative regions. 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 UTC+08:00 time zone, which is the same as the national standard — Beijing time.

As an illustration of the wide range, the daylight hours for the Chinese westernmost—not including Xinjiang due to local customs (see below)—and easternmost county seats are included:[3]

DivisionDaylight time
LocationCountyProvince1 January1 July
WesternmostZandaTibet 09:41 – 19:49 07:40 – 21:50
EasternmostFuyuanHeilongjiang 06:54 – 15:18 03:05 – 19:08

Regions with special time regulations


The People's Congress of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region proclaimed Ürümqi Time (Chinese: 乌鲁木齐时间; pinyin: Wūlǔmùqí Shíjiān) due to its geographical location in the westernmost part of the country.[4] The time offset is UTC+06:00 which is two hours behind Beijing, and is shared with Kazakhstan. Although this is not officially recognized, it is the time observed locally by most residents and local authorities.[5] Most stores and government offices in Xinjiang have modified opening hours, commonly running from 10am to 7pm Beijing Time (which equals 8am to 5pm in Ürümqi).[6][7]

Hong Kong

Main article: Hong Kong Time

Hong Kong maintains its own time authority after transfer of sovereignty in 1997. The Hong Kong Time (Chinese: 香港時間; pinyin: Xiānggǎng Shíjiān; Cantonese Yale: Hēunggóng sìgaan) is UTC+08:00 all 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 Hong Kong Observatory using a 6-inch Lee Equatorial and a 3-inch Transit Circle.


Macau maintains its own time authority after transfer of sovereignty in 1999. The Macao Standard Time[8] (Chinese: 澳門標準時間; pinyin: Àomén Biāozhǔn Shíjiān; Portuguese: Hora Oficial de Macau[9]) 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.

IANA time zone database

Map showing the IANA time zone database zones in China

The territory of the Peoples Republic of China is covered in the IANA time zone database by the following zones.

Columns marked with * are from the file zone.tab of the database.

c.c.*coordinates*TZ*comments*Standard timeSummer timeNotes
CN +3114+12128 Asia/Shanghai east China - Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai, etc.UTC+08:00 Historically Chungyuan time zone
CN +4545+12641 Asia/Harbin Heilongjiang (except Mohe), JilinUTC+08:00 Historical Changpai time zone
CN +2934+10635 Asia/Chongqing central China - Sichuan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Shaanxi, Guizhou, etc.UTC+08:00 Historical Kansu-Szechwan time zone
CN +4348+08735 Asia/Urumqi most of Tibet & XinjiangUTC+08:00 Historical Sinkiang-Tibet time zone
CN +3929+07559 Asia/Kashgar west Tibet & XinjiangUTC+08:00 Historical Kunlun time zone
HK +2217+11409 Asia/Hong_Kong UTC+08:00 SAR of China
MO +2214+11335 Asia/Macau UTC+08:00 SAR of China

See also


  1. Guo, Qingsheng (2003) "Beijing Time at the Beginning of PRC", China Historical Materials of Science and Technology 24(1)
  2. "Chinese political advisors make suggestions on resource saving". Chinese Government's Official Web Portal. People’s Republic of China. 7 July 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2008. China tried out summer time from 1986 to 1991.
  3. "NOAA Solar Calculator". NOAA. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
  4. http://www.xjxnw.gov.cn/zx/qxfw/qxzs/xjqxsc/02/434015.shtml
  5. http://www.xjlt.gov.cn/Item/3426.aspx
  6. "The Working-Calendar for The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Government". The Government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. Archived from the original on 4 Dec 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2008. Urumqi Time (GMT+6) is 2 hours behind Beijing Time
  7. Bending Time in Xinjiang
  8. Macao Standard Time, Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau
  9. "O SERVIÇO DE <<HORA EXACTA>> NA INTERNET". Smg.gov.mo. Retrieved 27 March 2011.

External links

Government departments responsible for time services
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