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Meaning and Symbolism of the Chinese Flag

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa Oct 06, 2018
Known as the Five-star Red Flag, there are different interpretations of the meaning of the Chinese flag. This Historyplex post will throw some light on the symbolism of the Chinese flag.
The national flag represents not only a country, but is also a symbol of its values and beliefs. The colors of the flag and the symbols on the flag have specific meanings associated with the country's culture and history. Likewise, the flag of China also represents certain aspects important to the Chinese nation and its people.


The Chinese flag is red in color with a large five-pointed star placed on the upper left hand corner. This large star is surrounded to its right side by four smaller yellow five-pointed stars.
These four small stars are placed around the large star at an angle (36 degrees). The four stars each have one of their five points pointed towards the center of the large star.

Meaning of Chinese Flag

There are various interpretations of the flag. It is said that the red color of the Chinese flag represents the blood of the heroes who sacrificed their lives during the revolution. This bloodshed by the revolutionary martyrs led to the political change in the country.
One interpretation is that the five stars represent the five largest ethnic groups in China (Han, Manchus, Mongols, Hui, and Tibetans).
Another meaning associated with the four stars is that they represent the four classes of the Chinese people. These classes include workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie.
In a more historical context, the four stars may represent the four categories of the people. These are the gōng (workers), nóng (farmers), shì (intellectual) and the shāng (businessmen).
The colors red symbolizes communism and revolution. The color gold or yellow represents the Chinese nation's yellow race. The white flag staff means that flawless purity and loftiness. The official interpretation is that the five stars and their relationship represents the unity of the Chinese people under the Communist Party of China.


In July 1949, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) placed an advertisement in the newspaper. This ad called for entries from the people of China for designs of the Chinese flag.
There were over 3,000 entries received from all over the country. Of these 3,000 entries, only 38 were finalized for the representatives of the CPPCC committee. After a lot of scrutiny, a design by Zeng Liansong was chosen by the CPPCC committee. This flag came to represent the People's Republic of China.
However, the committee made a small change in the flag's design. They removed the hammer and sickle from the center of the large star. The credit for the design of the flag still goes to Mr. Zeng.
On the 1st of October 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong raised the Chinese flag over the Tiananmen Square at 3.00 pm (local time). There were over 300,000 Chinese citizens who witnessed the Chinese flag flutter over Beijing.
Soon, this task of hoisting the flag every morning and lowering it at sundown was given to two workers of the History Museum. Later on, the flag hoisting was passed on to the Beijing garrison soldiers in 1969. And, after a few years, a squad of the armed police got the job.
On the morning of December 28th 1982, 96 honor guards raised the Chinese flag in 2 minutes and 7 seconds. This is the exact time it takes for the sun to rise above the horizon. The number 96 represents the 9.6 million square kms of Chinese territory. The 56 poles placed at the base of the flag represent the 56 ethnic groups living along the borders of China.
Every morning and evening, the flag is hoisted and lowered. Apart from this, a grand flag hoisting ceremony with 60 piece military band is carried out on the first, eleventh and twenty-first of every month.
The red color is a traditional color of ancient China, and dates back to the Han Dynasty in 206 BC. The yellow color was chosen as it radiates over the red background.