The Chinese Flag, or National Flag of China (中国国旗), is also known as the Five-star Red Flag (Wǔxīng Hóngqí).
The flag of China is a 3:2 ratio flag with a red background and 5 golden stars in the top left-hand corner. 4 of these stars wrap around the largest star in the corner.
The first flag of China as we know it today was hoisted by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on 1 October 1949, overlooking Beijing's Tiananmen Square. This was at a ceremony announcing the establishment of the People's Republic of China.
Red Background: Chinese Communist Revolution
5 Stars: Unity of Chinese people under the Communist Party of China’s leadership.
Orientation of the Stars: Unity should revolve around the centre.
Larger Star: Chinese people
4 Smaller Stars: 4 social classes of China’s New Democracy as said in Mao’s “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship” speech. This includes the working class, the peasantry, the urban elite, and the national bourgeoisie, or ‘shi, nong, gong, shang’.
Yellow Colour: China belongs to the Chinese people, a "yellow race".
The flag as a whole represents the people of China’s success, achievements and hardships under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.
The Chinese flag was first hoisted on October 1st 1949 on the occasion of the founding of the PRC, People’s Republic of China.
Before then, the previous flag of China was the “Yellow Dragon Flag”. This Chinese flag was used in the Qing Dynasty. The Qing Dynasty is the last imperial dynasty in China’s history.
It was on July 4th 1949 that he Preparatory Committee of the New Political Consultative Conference (新政治協商會議籌備會, PCNPCC) published the notice to submit designs for the national flag, leading to over 3,000 entries in total.
There was much debate and deliberation over the choice of the current Chinese flag. Mao Zedong preferred a different design.
In the end, the committee settled for a slightly edited version of the final design. The flag of China design was selected on 27th September 1949, and published the new official Chinese flag on 29th September, allowing some time for companies and businesses to copy the design.
Zhao Wenrui, the seamstress for the flag, finished her sewing around midday on the 30th September. Just in time for it to be hoisted the next day.
On October 1st the Chinese flag was hoisted on the flagpole overlooking Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
The Chinese flag was created by Zeng Liansong. Originally from Zhejiang, he worked as an economist in Shanghai when he heard the annoucement. Feeling patriotic to his country, he wanted to create a flag representing his enthusiasm and patriotism to China.
He spent a lot of time mulling over various designs. In the end, the inspiration for the current flag of China came as Zeng Liansong was looking up to the night sky. He recalled a Chinese proverb; "longing for the stars, longing for the moon," (盼星星盼月亮, pàn xīngxīng pàn yuèliàng), describing yearning. He used this proverb as inspiration for his design. The inspiration for the 4 small stars came from Mao Zedong’s "On the People's Democratic Dictatorship," speech. This was a speech defining the Chinese people as consisting of four social classes; 士農工商, shì nóng gōng shāng, "the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie”.
Originally, Zeng had placed the hammer and sickle on the flag also. This was however removed since it was too similar to the Soviet Union Flag.
Zeng received 5 million yuan for his work designing the flag of China.
Today, the Chinese flag remains widely in use across mainland China. There are various rules for hoisting the Chinese flag, including certain rules for establishments that must hoist the flag and what regulations they must follow for this.
You will see the Chinese flag often in China, and as well as appearing on flagpoles, you may also see smaller versions adorning people’s houses, windows, cars etc.
Respect of the flag of China is written into the national penal code.
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