Double time

Almost all of China uses only one time zone. In the extreme west of China, the Xinjiang region uses two time zones at the same time. This is very confusing.

Chinese clock
Photo taken by Fanghong [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
If you’re using Beijing time, the official standard in China, when you cross the border into Afghanistan you jump three and a half hours instantly. So you can imagine why the residents of Xinjiang feel a little disconnected.

Their solution is to have a separate timezone, called Xinjiang time, that is better aligned to their neighbours. But here’s the thing: not everyone in Xinjiang follows Xinjiang time.  The Han (China’s majority ethnic group) still use Beijing time, whereas the local Uyghurs using Xinjiang time instead. So in this region there are two timezones operating in perpetual parallel.

It’s not just individuals: the television stations follow one timezone or the other, depending on whether their target audience is Han or Uyghur. If you’re scheduling a meeting with someone you need to specify which timezone you intend, or you might miss the other person by a couple of hours.

 

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