China, December 4, 1999
All this land, but only one time zone to play in!
I am in yet another Beijing taxi, this time caught in the apex of rush
hour. Please don't ask me why I am here, I really don't know myself, but
it's a good time to chat about the Chinese time zones.
Actually, unlike what Trivial Pursuit will tell you, there is only one time zone in China, and that makes me mad. For the third largest country in the world, after Russia and Canada, you'd think they would at least split it up a bit, but no. We are talking China here; where unlike Russia who likes to believe all things rotate around Moscow, China really does evolve around Beijing. Since Kublai Khan made this the capital of his Mongol empire around 1000 AD, Beijing has set the standard for this part of Asia.
With all that arrogance, it decreed that all of China would follow Beijing time, which unfortunately for Beijing, is not the best for the city. Ok, its not the best for me, and as I am the center of my existence, I'm gonna tell you why.
I don't care if most Chinese still farm the land, thereby following the sun. Not bureaucrats in a faraway city. I don't care if, even in Beijing, the shop owners like the settings so they can start work by daylight. I don't even care if the time is suitable for most of central China, versus the coastal area where I live. I care that it's dark when I leave work at night!
Ok, now I'm starting to think all in China doesn't revolve around Beijing bureaucrats, or they'd have changed time by now.
See, as an office worker (again!), I don't have time in the morning to do much more than scrub my face and haul-ass to work. It is the afternoons, when I am through with work for the day and want to relax, that I desire sunshine. I would rather see what is happening around me on my leisurely way home than my quick sprint to the office.
I know all ya'll, groping your way home with the spring forward, fall back crap in America, can understand. I never understood why it wasn't the opposite. Yeah, I've heard the school kids shouldn't walk to school in the dark augment, and the farmers need light scam, but I believe neither. First, kids don't vote, so screw 'em. Second, farmers follow the sun, as the Chinese farmers do, and couldn't care what the clock says.
Ok, so why all this bitching? Its because China is on one time zone, the wrong one! If this were Russia, Japan, or Korea, we would be at least one, if not two hours ahead. So, instead of the sun setting at 5pm, it would set at 7pm. Instead of me taxi-ing home in the dark, I'd get to see a sunset at least (if the smog wasn't too bad!). And instead of daylight being wasted as I slept to a reasonable hour (6am is NOT reasonable), it could be allocated where not just I, but a few hundred million others would want it too, in the evening!
I've heard that China tried the multiple time zone gig and was unable to master the concept. If this is true, and unlike the notoriously disorganized Russians, they can't figure out how to run trains and the like in multiple zones, they will reach an organizational low in my humble opinion.
Until the glorious day that reason prevails, and the office workers of Beijing are rewarded for all their work with a sunlit evening, I will fight on for the cause of proper illumination, here, there, everywhere! Let the time revolution begin!