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Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó, 中华人民共和国

Last modified: 2005-12-31 by phil nelson
Keywords: china | star: yellow (5) |
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[Flag of China] image by Zejlko Heimer
Proportions: 2:3
Usage code: [FIS Code]

Formal Name (English): People's Republic of China
ISO Code: CN CHN 156
FIPS 10-4 Code: CH
MARC Code: cc

Construction Sheet

[Flag of China construction sheet] image by Zejlko Heimer

See also:

According to Carol P. Shaw in the book Flags (Running Press), the red of the flag is the traditional color of revolution; the large gold star represents "the Common Program of the Communist Party"; and the smaller gold stars represent the four classes united by the common program: the workers, the peasants, the petty bourgeois, and capitalists sympathetic to the Party (or "patriotic capitalists").
Bruce Tindall, 03 April 1996

Very early versions of the flag has been in use since the early 1920s by the Communist Party, but was modified to become the present national flag in 1949.
Xuess Wee York Ting , 25 September 1996

When I lived in PRC from 1987-88, I asked about the symbolism of the flag. I was told by several university professors and students on several different occasions that the large star represents the guiding light of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the four small stars represent the four other political parties allowed in the PRC.

These parties accept the legitimacy of the CCP to run the government and that they will not advocate for any change in government. These other parties, whose names I never could ascertain, are basically toothless and lend legitimacy to the PRC's claim to be a multiparty system.
Steven Chapman, 16 August 1999

Whatever the present 'meaning' of the stars on the Chinese communist flag, I believe the original symbolism was the same as the original Republic flag - the Han people of China and the 4 other races (Manchurian, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Muslims). The first republican flag was 5 horizontal stripes red yellow blue white black, which IMO was a very handsome flag. Andrew Yong, 16 August 1999

All books which mention the symbolism of the starlets on the PRC flag have the same explanation. There are at present 8 small parties besides the Communist Party: Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang, Democratic League, Democratic Society for National Construction, Society for Furthering Democracy, Democratic Laborers and Peasant Party, Zhi Gong Dang (Party of Common Interests), Jiusan (=3 September) Society, Democratic Self Determination League of Taiwan, All-Chinese Union of Industrials and Merchants, (that makes 9; one of them might be the coordinating committee - I translated this from the Fischer Weltalmanach 1988) The Statesman's Yearbook 1993-94 and the CIA's World Fact Book 1996-97 confirm the existence of 8 parties besides the CP, which are controlled by the CP.
Jarig Bakker, 16 August 1999

This is a quote from the New York Consulate of the PR of China and other 'official' websites. "The national flag of the People's Republic of China is red in colour, rectangular in shape, with five stars. The proportion between the length and height of the flag is three to two. The five five-pointed yellow stars are located in the upper left corner. One of them, which is bigger, appears on the left, while the other four hem it in on the right.

The red colour of the flag symbolizes revolution; the stars take on the yellow colour in order to bring out their brightness on the red ground. The larger star represents the CPC, while the four smaller ones, the Chinese people. The relationship between the stars means the great unity of the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC.

The national emblem of the People's Republic of China is Tiananmen in the centre illuminated by five stars and encircled by ears of grain and a cogwheel. The ears of grain, stars, Tiananmen and cogwheel are painted golden, and the inner part of the circle and hanging ribbons are painted red because these two colours are traditional Chinese colours representing auspiciousness and happiness.

Tiananmen symbolizes the unyielding national spirit of the Chinese people in their fight against imperialism and feudalism; the ears of grain and cogwheel represent the working class and the peasantry; and the five stars stand for the great unity of the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC."

About 6 years ago, we had a delegation of engineering students visit us (a chemical plant). I brought my small hand flag of the PRC and put it on the luncheon table with the American Flag. I was very surprised at the very strong reaction to seeing their national flag, and the young visitors were almost in tears when they spotted their flag (homesick after 2 weeks). I asked the "chaperone" - they were all female - about the symbolism of the flag, and she gave the political party interpertation, not the usual one cited "peasants, workers, bourgeoisie, and capitalists"
Jerry Lorigan, 17 August 1999

A different interpretation is that the bigger star stands for the Han (Chinese Chinese) and the others for Manchus, (inner) Mongolians, Tibetans and Uyghurs, just like the previous stripped flag -- but I guess that this is out of fashion these days ;-)

The official interpretation, referring the bigger star as the party and the smaller simply the "Chinese people", not referring specifically any meaning for each of them is vague enough to fit any of the earlier explanations.
Antonio Martins, 17 August 1999


The five-star red flag - The national flag of The People's Republic of China (Beijing: Morning Glory Publishers, 1997), gives this interpretation of its symbolism:

The national flag of the People's Republic of China is the five-star red flag. The red color of the flag is the symbol of the revolution, signifying that the political power of the People's Republic of China is achieved through bloodshed and lives laid down by countless revolutionary martyrs who marched forward wave upon wave in the heroic struggles for the revolution. In the upper-left corner of the flag there are five-pointed yellow stars, of which the big one represents the Communist Party of China and the four small ones the people of all ethnic groups of the country. One point of the big star points right up the flag and of the four small ones each has a point pointing towards the centre of the big star. This shows that the Chinese Communist Party is the force at the core of the leadership of the Chinese people of all ethnic groups who unite closely as one round the Party. With the color of the stars in yellow this means the great cause of socialism has a bright future. With the flag-staff painted white, that is to suggest flawless purity and loftiness."

This explanation differs from the interpretation of the large star as representing the Communist party and the smaller stars as representing the four classes.
Jan Oskar Engene, 10 November 1999

50th Anniversary


China Ready for 50th Anniversary

By ELAINE KURTENBACH Associated Press Writer

BEIJING (AP) - Huge red lanterns bounced in the breeze and the national flag waved from doorsteps and children's fists as workers in Tiananmen Square put the finishing touches on lavish celebrations that will mark communist China's 50th anniversary.


Despite the genuine patriotism shared by many Chinese, the authorities were taking no chances. Neighborhood committees - the communist government's local enforcers - ordered residents to display flags. Any household with a flag deemed too old had to pay $3 for a new one.

Mark Sensen, 01 October 1999

Ethnic flags

Today in a report on TV, I saw a Games of Nationalities in China: 54 recognized minorities or nationalities marched under their own flags. Unfortunately was only a small report and only two flags show. One is light blue with elaborate emblem en canton. Another is red with three white Chinese characters. I believe that some nationalities have flag own (and recognized) and others have not yet adopted one, and marched under red flag with the name of their nationality. But is important know that the nations in China has a right to a flag own: 54 new flags undocumented!!!
Jaume Ollé, 19 August 1999