Sunday, June 19, 2011

If it’s 10:00 AM in Shanghai, what time is it in Xian?

China is a vast country with an area almost the same size as the USA (3.8 million square miles) and a population of almost 1.4 billion people.  In theory China spans 5 time zones.  The most eastern part of China is in Manchuria and the most western part is Xinjiang province, which is almost as far west as Kabul Afghanistan.  Therefore, if it is 10:00 AM in Manchuria it should be 5:00 AM in Xinjiang province.  But alas, as you will quickly learn once you visit China, nothing is what it should be.

Before 1949 there were 5 times zones in China but Chairman Mao in his infinite wisdom decided that it would be best if all of China had only one time zone.  So, on September 27 1949 all of China went on Beijing time, which is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.  Well that’s not quite true.  Xinjiang province decided that there was too big of a difference between Beijing time and what the sun was telling them for their province so they created Urmuqi time, which is 6 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.  The only problem is that the Central Government does not recognize Urmuqi.  So the locals in Xinjiang use one time and the central government uses another time.  Who’s on first?  I don’t know!

Daylight Savings Time was observed in China from 1986 until 1991.  Daylight Savings time is no longer observed in China.

The answer to the original question; “if it’s 10:00 AM in Shanghai, what time is it in Xian?”   10:00 AM even though it is in a different time zone according to international standards!

P.S. please don’t ask me what time it is in Hong Kong and Macao.

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