China Guide - Flag of the People's Republic of China - China Circulation Travel Service

Flag of the People's Republic of China

China Flag Name: Wǔ Xīng Hóng Qí ("Five Star Red Flag")
Use: Civil and state flag and ensign
Proportion: 2:3
Adopted: September 27, 1949
Design: A large golden star within an arc of 4 smaller golden stars, in the canton, on a field of red.
Designed by: Zeng Liansong

The flag of the People's Republic of China is a red field charged in the canton with five golden stars. The design features one large star, with four smaller stars in a semicircle set off towards the fly. The red represents revolution; the five stars and their relationship represents the unity of the Chinese people under the leadership of Communist Party of China (CPC). Sometimes, the flag is referred to as the "Five Star Red Flag" (simplified Chinese: 五星红旗; traditional Chinese: 五星紅旗; pinyin: wǔ xīng hóng qí).

The flag was designed by Zeng Liansong, a citizen from Rui'an, Zhejiang. He designed it in response to a circular distributed by the Preparatory Committee of the New Political Consultative Conference (新政治協商會議籌備會) in July 1949, shortly after they came to power following the Chinese Civil War. 2,992 (or 3,012, see below) entries were received for the design competition, and Zeng's design was put into a pool of 38 finalists. After several meetings and slight modifications, Zeng's design was chosen as the national flag. The first flag was hoisted by Mao Zedong on a pole overlooking Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949, announcing the founding of the People's Republic.


History of the design

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On July 4, 1949, the sixth working group of the Preparatory Committee of the New Political Consultative Conference (新政治協商會議籌備會, PCNPCC) created a notice to solicit for designs of the national flag. After a few changes, the notice was published in the papers People's Daily, Beiping Liberation News, Xinmin News, Dazhong Daily, Guangming Daily, Jinbu Daily and Tianjin Daily during a period between July 15-26. The list requirements for the national flag was also posted in the notice:

  1. 1. Chinese characteristics (Geography, nationality, history, culture, etc.)
  2. 2. Power characteristics (A people's democratic dictatorship, led by the working class and based on the worker-peasant alliance.)
  3. 3. The shape should be rectangular and the length-breadth ratio should be 3:2
  4. 4. The color should mainly be bright red (an early draft of the notice had the color at dark red, but was changed to bright red by Zhou Enlai).

The original design submitted by Zeng Liansong Zeng was working in Shanghai at the time the announcement came out; he wanted to create a flag design to express his patriotic enthusiasm for the new country. In the middle of July, he sat down in his attic for countless nights to come up with designs. His inspiration of the current design comes from the stars shining in the night sky. He thought of a Chinese proverb "longing for the stars, longing for the moon," (盼星星盼月亮) which shows yearning. Later, he realized that the CPC was the great savior (大救星) of the Chinese people, being represented by a larger star. The idea of four small stars was came from an article "On the People's Democratic Dictatorship" written by Mao Zedong, which defined Chinese people was consisted by four social classes. After working out the details of the placement of the stars and their sizes (he tried to put all of the stars in the center, but believed it would be too heavy and dull), he sent his "Five Stars on a Field of Red" (紅地五星旗) design to the committee in the middle of August.

As of August 20, a total of 2,992 (or 3,012) designs were sent to the flag committee, which included input from committee members themselves, such as Guo Moruo and Tan Kah Kee. From August 16 to 20, the designs were viewed at the Beijing Hotel and culled down to a list of 38. These designs are collected into a book named A Reference of National Flag Designs (國旗圖案參考資料). This book was then submitted to the newly established Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) for further discussion. However, Zeng's design wasn't included until Tian Han nominated it again.

In the morning of September 23, the representatives of CPPCC discussed the national flags, but have no conclusion. Some didn't like the symbolism which Zeng attached to the four smaller stars, said it shouldn't include the bourgeoisie. The design Mao and others liked had a giant golden star in the corner on a red flag that are charged with a golden horizontal bar. But it was strongly opposed by Zhang Zhizhong due to the golden bar symbolized the tearing apart of the revolution and the country, and might cause an imagination to Sun Wukong's Ruyi Jingu Bang. In the night, Peng Guanghan (彭光涵) recommended Zeng's design to Zhou Enlai, Zhou was satisfied with it and asks for a larger copy of the design to be made. Tan Kah Kee also gave his advice to Mao and Zhou that the power characteristics are more important than Chinese geography characteristics, so there's no need to insist on the golden bar which stands for the Yellow River. Two days later, Mao had a meeting in his office about the flag. He persuaded everyone to adopted Zeng's design, with some slight modifications. According to earlier discussions at the Beijing Hotel, the hammer and sickle from Zeng's original design was removed since it was similar to the Flag of the Soviet Union. On September 27, 1949, Zeng's modified design was selected unanimously by the First Plenary Session of CPPCC, which changed the flag's name to "Five Star Red Flag".

September 29, the new flag was published in the People's Daily, so the design could be copied by other local authorities. The flag was officially unveiled in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949, the formal announcement of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The first flag flown over Tiananmen Square was sewn together by Zhao Wenrei (赵文瑞), a seamstress who finished the task around 1 PM on September 30. Zeng had a hard time believing that his design was picked, due to the missing hammer and sickle from the giant star. However, he was officially congratulated by the General Office of the People's Government as the designer of the flag and received 5 million yuan for his work.

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Symbolism

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According to the current government interpretation of the flag, the red background symbolizes the revolution and the golden colors were used to "radiate" on the red background, which is considered to be more beautiful than white. The five stars and their relationship represents the united of Chinese people under the leadership of Communist Party of China. The orientation of the stars shows the unity should go around a center. In the original description of the flag by Zeng, the larger star symbolizes the Communist Party of China, and the four smaller stars that surround the big star symbolize the four social classes (the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie) of Chinese people mentioned in Mao's "On the People's Democratic Dictatorship". The five stars that formed an ellipse represent the territory of China (includes the Outer Mongolia) which shaped like a Begonia leaf. It is sometimes stated that the five stars of the flag represent the five largest ethnic groups. This is generally regarded as an erroneous conflation with the "Five Races Under One Union" flag, used 1912–28 by the Beiyang Government of Republic of China, whose different-colored stripes represented the Han, Manchus, Mongols, Muslims, and Tibetans.

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Construction details, sizes and colors

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The construction sheet for the national flag was published on September 28, 1949 by an order from the Presidium of the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.[19] The flag is split into four sections, with the top hoist part of the flag being a grid of 10 by 15 units. The center of the biggest star is placed at 5 units from the hoist and 5 units from the top of the flag. The diameter of the biggest star's circumscribed circle is 6 units. Of the four smaller stars, the first one is centered 2 units from the top of the flag, 10 units from the hoist; the second one is centered 4 units from the top of the flag and 12 units from the hoist; the third one is centered 7 units from the top of the flag and 12 units from the hoist; the fourth one is centered 9 units from the top of the flag and 10 units from the hoist. The diameter of each small star's circumscribed circle is 2 units. Each of the top points of the four smaller stars are rotated such that they point towards the center point of the larger star. The information can also be found in the document "GB 12982-2004: National flag" that was released by the Standardization Administration of China. The Law on the National Flag mentions five possible sizes that could be made for the national flag: According to Article four of the Law On the National Flag, people's governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government are directed to authorize companies to make the national flag.

Construction sheet for the national flag

Construction sheet for the national flag

Size Length and width in centimeters
1 288 × 192
2 240 × 160
3 192 × 128
4 144 × 96
5 96 × 64

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Colors

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The colors of the national flag are regulated in the document "GB 12983-2004: Standard Color Sample of the National Flag," also released by the Standardization Administration of China. The colors are in the CIE Standard illuminant D65 and the CIE 1964 Supplementary Standard Colorimetric System.

Standard Color Sample of the National Flag

Fabric Stimulus ValueY10 Color Coordinate Allowable Error
x10 y10
Synthetic fiber Red 9.4 0.555 0.328

All are

 

Gold 41.2 0.446 0.489
Silk Red 12.3 0.565 0.325
Gold 32.4 0.450 0.463
Cotton cloth Red 9.2 0.595 0.328
Gold 33.0 0.467 0.463
Sleeve White 78.0 - - The stimulus value Y10
must not less than 78

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Regulations

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The current law about the national flag was passed by 14th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Seventh National People's Congress on June 28,1990 and was enforced starting October 1, 1990. The main point of the law was to not only set down regulations on how to make the Chinese flag, what it looks like, where it can be flown and how it can be flown. The law also stresses that the national flag is "the symbol and hallmark of the People's Republic of China" and that everyone "shall respect and care for the National Flag."

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Subnational flags

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Due to an order passed by the CPC Central Committee General Office and General Office of the State Council, cities and provinces are no longer allowed to adopt their own symbols.[24] However, both of Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions of China have their own special flags. The precise use of the SAR flags are regulated by laws passed by the National People's Congress.

The Regional Flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region features a stylized, white, five-petal Bauhinia blakeana flower in the center of a red field. The flag of Hong Kong was adopted on 16 February 1990. On 10 August 1996, it received formal approval from the Preparatory Committee, a group which advised the People's Republic of China (PRC) on Hong Kong's transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to the PRC in 1997. The flag was first officially hoisted on 1 July 1997, in the handover ceremony marking the transfer of sovereignty.

The Regional flag of the Macau Special Administrative Region is "Macau green" with a lotus flower above the stylized Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge and water in white, beneath an arc of five gold, five-pointed stars: one large in the center of the arc and four smaller ones. The lotus was chosen as the floral emblem of Macau. The Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge is a bridge linking the Macau Peninsula and the island of Taipa. The bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks for the territory. The water beneath the lotus and the bridge symbolize Macau's position as a port and its role played in the territory. The five five-pointed stars echo the design of the national flag, symbolizing the relationship Macau has with its mother country. The design was chosen on January 15, 1993 by a committee that was drafting the Basic Law for the Macau SAR and was formally adopted by the Macao SAR Preparatory Committee on January 16, 1999.

Flag of Hong Kong Special Administrative Regions
Flag of Macau Special Administrative Regions
Flag of Hong Kong Special Administrative Regions Flag of Macau Special Administrative Regions

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Military flags

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There are four flags that are used by the People's Liberation Army. The main feature of the flags is a golden star at the top left corner and the characters 81 to the right of the star, all placed on a red background. The characters 81 (八一) pays homage to the events on August 1, 1927; this was when the PLA was created by the Communist Party to start their rebellion against Kuomintang Government in Nanchang. The main flag of the PLA was created on June 15, 1949 by a decree issued from Mao. The flag has a ratio of 4 by 5, which has a white sleeve measuring 1/16th of the flag's length. For ceremonies, a PLA flag with golden fringe is placed on a pole with gold and red spiral stripes and topped with a golden finial and red tassel. Each branch of the PLA, the Ground Forces, Navy and Air Force, also have their own flags to use. In a 1992 order, the flags of the three branches were defined. The top 5/8ths of the flags is the same as the PLA flag; the bottom 3/8ths are occupied by the colors of the branches. The flag of the Ground Forces has a forest green bar at the bottom, the naval ensign has stripes of blue and white at the bottom and the Air Force uses a sky blue bar at the bottom. The forest green represents the earth, the blue and white stripes represent the seas and the sky blue represents the air.

People's Liberation Army Flag of the People's Republic of China
Ground Force Flag of the People's Republic of China
Naval Ensign of the People's Republic of China
Air Force Flag of the People's Republic of China
PLA Ground Forces Navy Air Force

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Organizational flags

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After the Communist Party of China was founded in 1920, various sections of the party made flags based on what the Bolsheviks used, producing various designs and patterns. The current flag of the CPC was not created until April 28, 1942. On that date, the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau issued a decree announcing the flag and the pattern it should follow. The design was further defined in the CPC Constitution in 1996. The flag has a red background that is charged with the emblem of the CPC in gold at the top left corner. The flag ratio is defined as two by three; the size of the emblem is 8 units square, placed four units away from the hoist and three units away from the top of the flag.

The flag of the Communist Youth League of China was adopted on May 4, 1950. The design of the flag consists of the group emblem, a gold star surrounded by a ring of gold, charged on a red field. The construction of the flag consists of making the top hoist portion of the flag into twelve by eighteen units, placing the emblem in the middle of that rectangle. The radius of the emblem is four units. There are two flags used by the Young Pioneers of China. The first flag that is used is for large detachments. The length of the flag is 90 centimeters and the width is 120 centimeters. A golden badge of the Young Pioneers is placed in the center of the flag. For a medium detachment, a modified flag is used. The flag has a length of 60 centimeters and a width of 80 centimeters. A 20 centimeter triangle is cut out of the fly edge of the flag and the golden emblem is shifted closer towards the hoist.

Communist Party of China
Communist Youth League of China
Young Pioneers of China (Large Detachment)
Young Pioneers of China (Medium Detachment)
Communist Party of China Communist Youth League of China Young Pioneers of China (Large Detachment) Young Pioneers of China (Medium Detachment)

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Tranfer Related Links

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CCTS China Travel Forum CCTS China Travel Forum - China Guide

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