The giant country where people ‘eat dinner at midnight’ due to weird time zone
While one side of the country is eating lunch, another is eating supper, but it is the same time in both.
Despite spanning five time zones, China follows one standard time, known as Beijing Time domestically and China Standard Time internationally.
This was done by the Communist Party to promote national unity in 1949. Daylight savings were abandoned in 1991.
The most westerly part of the country is in GMT+5 and the most easterly is in GMT+9, meaning when it is 12pm in Kashgar it should be 5pm in Harbin.
Instead, it is always GMT+8 across the entire 3000-mile country, regardless of when the sun rises and sets.
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That can lead to headaches — and lost sleep.
“It’s hard to adjust,” says Gao Li, a sanitation worker in Urumqi.
“I often think we must be the only people who eat dinner at midnight.”
Schools, airports and train stations operate at odd hours, national exams are taken in the dead of night and restaurants open into the early hours.
However, not all follow the standard time, with Uighurs in Xinjiang setting their clocks two hours earlier to match their local times.
This can cause confusion between people who live in the area.
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Jin Xiaolong, 28, who teaches parkour, a French athletic discipline, says scheduling classes with his Uighur friends in Urumqi can be a challenge.
He said: “I used to arrive early, all alone.
“I’d go to a restaurant to eat, wait some more, and eventually grow impatient and start practice by myself.”
Now, he makes a point of clarifying to his friends: He only deals in Beijing time.
Other large countries – such as Russia and the United States – do follow the UTC-set time zones.
Russia and the United States both sit across 11 time zones, Australia across nine and Canada across six.
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