Who designed China’s National Flag?

BY SILVI WRITER

 

A total of 140,000 people from all over China gathered at Tian’anmen Square in Beijing on Monday morning to watch the flag-raising ceremony, celebrating the 69th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, according to China Daily.

Photos by Zhu Xingxin, China Daily

The flag of China, the Five-star Red Flag, was officially adopted on October 1, 1949.

The red symbolizes the communist revolution, and it’s also the traditional color of the people.

The large gold star represents communism, while the four smaller stars represent the social classes of the people.

The five stars together reflect the importance placed on the number five in Chinese thought and history.

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Do you know who designed it?

On the eve of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, a design competition was held to create a new flag as a symbol of unity and power for the new government. One man’s submission caught the eye above all others, and went on to become the design we know today.

His name was Zeng Liansong (曾联松), a native of Wenzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province.

Zeng, 31-year-old then, was working in Shanghai.

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As the Communist Party gathered their last bit of strength and prepared to take over China, they posted a notice in several prominent newspapers requesting flag ideas on July 4, 1949.

Designs flooded in, nearly 3,000 of them, all of which followed a slightly different interpretation of the requirements, which were as follows: Chinese characteristics, power characteristics, rectangular, and red.

Mao Zedong’s favorite submission was a design not dissimilar from the one that would eventually be chosen.

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It featured one large yellow star in the upper left corner and a bold yellow line bellow it. The star represented the Communist Party, and the line the Yellow River. But despite its support from the future chairman, the design was ultimately rejected on the basis that the line created disunity in the flag.

Instead, the winning design was proposed by Zeng, a “working class” citizen.

When Zeng saw the party’s notice in the newspaper, he decided it was his patriotic right to participate.

As he was burning the midnight oil to come up with a design that would epitomize his enthusiasm for the new leadership, he looked up into the night sky and was reminded of the proverb “longing for the stars, longing for the moon.”

He decided then that stars should be the main feature of the flag.

He opted for a large yellow star in the upper left corner of the flag to represent the Communist Party, and four smaller yellow stars to its right to represent the “four occupations” of the Chinese people as laid out by Mao Zedong in an earlier speech: shi, nong, gong, shang – the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie.

Zeng also placed a hammer and sickle in the center of the largest star, though that addition was dropped by the selection committee for the final design, as they didn’t want their flag to look too similar to that of the Soviet Union.

The flag debuted in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949, the day that the People’s Republic of China was formally announced.

Zeng had a hard time believing that his design was picked, due to the missing hammer and sickle from the giant star. He was officially congratulated by the General Office of the Central People’s Government as the designer of the flag and received 5 million yuan as bonus.

Zeng died in Shanghai in Oct, 1999, aged 81.

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