Flag of China: History and Meaning - science - 2023



The China's flag It is the most important national symbol of the People's Republic of China. Its emblematic and predominant color is red, which represents the Revolution and the Chinese communist system. The flag is accompanied by five yellow stars in its upper left corner.

The communist aesthetic of the Chinese flag is of special importance due to its main color, to which is added the presence of the stars. The insignia was established in 1949, following the seizure of power by Mao Zedong's troops at the end of the Chinese Communist Revolution. This flag replaced that of nationalist China.

The flag is also known as the five-star red flag. Its origin is that of a public contest that was held with the founding of the People's Republic of China. The winner was the Chinese worker Zeng Liansong, although his design underwent minor modifications.

The meaning of the flag was also established later. The color red represents the communist revolution. Instead, the yellow stars are identified with the relationship of the Chinese people, which would be the four small stars, with the Chinese Communist Party, represented in the large star.

History of the flag

China represents an ancient culture, which has gone through very different systems of government. Everything has led to the country being recognized with various symbols throughout its history. The flags have been the most prominent, and are a true reflection of the prevailing system at that historical moment.

Flag of the Qing Dynasty

China had many monarchies in its history. The Qing dynasty was the last of them. It lasted between 1644 and 1912, when it was deposed by the Xinhai Revolution, which proclaimed the Republic of China.

However, since 1889 the Qing dynasty used a specific pavilion. In this flag a blue imperial dragon was reflected. This dragon represents the forces of the Five Chinese Deities, typical of their mythology. The animal points to a circular red pearl in the upper left corner.

The blue dragon artwork is on top of a deep yellow cloth. For this reason, it is known as the yellow dragon flag. This color was representative of the Qing dynasty.

Flag of the Republic of China

The Chinese monarchy faced all kinds of problems, internal and external, in the last decades of its reign. Finally, they had to face a major armed movement, known today as the Xinhai Revolution.

As a result of the uprising, Emperor Xuantong, better known as Puyi, abdicated. The monarch was barely six years old. With his resignation, the ROC began, and the monarchical symbols were replaced.

Republican troops had different flags. For example, Lu Haodong's wore one with a white sun against a blue sky, with a field of "red earth." In the Wuhan region, a flag with 18 yellow stars representing each Chinese region was used. In the south of the country, in cities like Shanghai, the flag of the five colors was used.

Finally, the Provisional Senate of the ROC established the Five-Color Flag as the national flag. In it, the canton was divided into five horizontal stripes of the same size. The colors were, in decreasing order, red, yellow, blue, white, and black.

The flag represented the five major ethnic groups in China: Han (red), Manchu (yellow), Mongols (blue), Hui (white), and Tibetans (black).

Opposition to the five-strip flag and change

The movement of Sun Yat-sen, a military leader who used the blue flag of the white sun, was against the adoption of the flag of the five stripes. He argued that the horizontal order of the stripes could imply a superiority of the ethnic groups that were above.

In 1913, Chinese President Yuan Shikai dissolved the National Assembly and Sun's party, for which the leader went into exile in Japan. There, he began to use the flag of the white sun over the blue field and the red earth.

In December 1928 his companions re-entered Chinese territory and regained power. For this reason, this flag was established as a new flag, replacing the previous one with five stripes.

Flags under Japanese occupation

In the framework of World War II, China was occupied by the Empire of Japan, as was much of Asia. The invaders established different puppet states with various flags. For example, the flag of the five colors was taken up again in a government of Nanking.

In Manchuria, in the north of the country, the Japanese re-established the monarchy with Puyi as emperor. The new puppet state was named Manchukuo. Its flag recovered the yellow but with the republican symbol in the upper left corner.

Flag of the People's Republic of China

Shortly after World War II ended, China was the scene of a civil war. In it, Mao Zedong's communist troops clashed with the nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek. In 1949, the Communists triumphed and entered Beijing. That caused the nationalists to go into exile on the island of Taiwan.

For this reason, the country's new regime created a working group that prepared a competition for the design of the new flag. This was publicized in the national press in July 1949. The flag should have Chinese characteristics, in addition to referring to the new Chinese power system, such as the popular, worker and peasant government.

Also the flag had to have a rectangular shape with dimensions of 3: 2. Last but not least, the government established that the flag had to be designed with the color red, symbol of communism.

Flag construction

The contest received approximately 3,000 entries, but the one chosen was by Zeng Liansong. This artist was an ordinary citizen working in Shanghai when he decided to submit a pavilion design.

Zeng used a metaphor of the starry sky to interpret that the Chinese Communist Party is the one that guides the smaller stars, which would be represented by the Chinese people.

The presence of the four stars had significance in the work of the communist leader Mao Zedong. In his work On the popular democratic dictatorshipMao classified China's social classes into four: the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie. The color yellow was chosen because of its relationship with the predominant skin color in China and not with the previous monarchy.

Zeng's doubts in the construction of the flag were limited to the location of the stars, originally raised in the center. These were later removed to the upper left corner. Inside the largest star, representative of the CCP, Zeng drew a red hammer and sickle, a symbol of communism.

Flag choice debate

The proposals were analyzed in August 1949. First, 38 finalists were chosen. Initially, the Zeng design was not included, but later it was.

It was in September when the discussion about the choice of the flag began, which progressed without success. The communist leader, Mao Zedong, preferred at that time a red flag with a star and yellow stripe, representing the Yellow River.

Other communist leaders advised that a flag depicting the symbols of political power would be more convenient than one displaying geographic features. Mao was eventually sold on the idea, and chose to scrap the yellow stripe. In this way, Zeng's flag became a favorite.

Adoption of the flag

Mao Zedong convinced the other participants of the selection committee to choose Zeng's design. Small modifications were proposed to this flag for its final adoption.

That led to rule out the presence of the hammer and sickle, due to its similarity to the flag of the Soviet Union. This change was approved unanimously at the First Plenary of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on September 27.

The flag was first hoisted from the hands of Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949 in Tiananmen Square. This hoisting was done in the framework of the declaration of the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Since then, it has had no modifications.

Meaning of the flag

The meaning of the symbols and colors of the flag of the People's Republic of China has changed over time. Zeng Liansong's design posited that the largest star symbolized the Communist Party of China.

Instead, the four smallest represented the social classes raised by Mao: workers, peasants, urban petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie.

However, the government reinterpreted the meaning of the flag. In this way, the stars in general represent the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the people. This is also reflected in the orientation, as it shows the unity of the four small stars as a function of the largest.

In addition, meaning has been established for the colors of the national flag. The red color, traditional of communism, symbolizes the revolution. Meanwhile, yellow is the right color to radiate over red, clearly alluding to light.

Moreover, the number five is also a common element in Chinese symbols. For many people, it is identified with the five predominant ethnic groups in China: Han, Zhuang, Hui, Manchu, and Uighurs. This unofficial meaning is reminiscent of the former five-stripe flag of the ROC.

Other flags

The Chinese government has established different laws that prevent its regions and cities from creating their own flags. In this way, the national flag takes precedence over any other. However, there are exceptions such as the city of Kaifeng, and more recently the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.

Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, while Macao was a Portuguese overseas province until 1999. These two coastal cities were transferred to Chinese sovereignty, under the model one country, two systems, which would maintain a market economy in those cities.

Hong Kong flag

One of the agreements was the establishment of new flags for those cities, which would fly alongside the Chinese national flag. In this way, the Chinese government organized a contest since 1987 and approved a new flag for Hong Kong in 1990, which only began to be used in 1997.

This flag consists of a red cloth on which a white flower of the Bauhinia × blakeana tree is superimposed. The flower has five petals, and on each of them, there is a small red star.

Macau flag

On the other hand, Macau also designed its flag before the transfer of sovereignty. It reflects one of the main symbols of the city, the lotus flower, which is shown in white.

The flower is on the water, drawn with horizontal lines, and is dominated by five arched yellow stars. These are the same as the flag of China, because the central one is the largest. The flag began to be used in 1999.

Military flags

One of the bases of the People's Republic of China consists of the People's Liberation Army, which are its armed forces. This army has its own flag, which closely resembles the national one.

It is a red flag with a large yellow star in the upper left corner. Next to it, the number 81 is inscribed in Chinese characters. This number represents the date August 1, 1927, when the army was created.

Component flags

Each branch of the People's Liberation Army has its flag. In the case of the Land Forces, a green stripe is incorporated at the bottom.

The PLA Navy, in its flag, adds a section with five small horizontal stripes interspersed. These are blue and white, alluding to the sea.

The Air Force chose to choose the blue of the sky as the distinctive symbol of its flag. She also shares all the other elements of the ELP flag.

Finally, the Missile Force chose light orange as their flag differentiator. This symbol has a single additional stripe of that color.


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