The Flag of China – An Unusual History

On this day, October 1, 1949, the first flag of the newly founded People’s Republic of China was adopted and hoisted on a pole overlooking Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.  The flag was actually chosen as the result of a competition initiated by the new government, shortly after it came to power in July, 1949, following the Chinese Civil War.  Approximately 3,000 entries were submitted; 38 finalists were identified and finally the design by Zeng Liansong was chosen.  Zeng was a worker in Shanghai who wanted to demonstrate his enthusiasm for his new country.  He spent countless nights drawing designs.  The large star represented the Communist Party which he viewed as “the great savior” of the people.  The four smaller stars symbolized the four social classes: the working class, peasantry, urbanites and nationals (bourgeoisie) – classes identified by Mao.  Originally he had included a hammer and sickle inside the large star, but this was removed in the final version.  The red background symbolizes the revolution, and was required by the original competition rules.

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