The heat was turned on in Beijing on November 1st. Yes, the entire city uses one central heating system, a heating system that is presided over by one central agency.
On Monday, in their wisdom, The Municipal Heating Office pressed a button and the radiators of the offices and homes of 20 million Beijingers came to life. It strikes me as endearingly collective for an entire city to endure through the first weeks of cold weather without heat together. It certainly builds camaraderie to know that everyone else is also wearing a hat and gloves to bed.