File:Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg

23px Civil and state flag and ensign. Ratio 2:3

File:Peoples Liberation Army Flag of the Peoples Republic of China.svg

23px Military flag. Ratio: 4:5

File:Naval Ensign of the People's Republic of China.svg

23px Naval ensign.

The Flag of the People's Republic of China, the "Five-Starred Red Flag (五星红旗 in pinyin: wǔ xīng hóng qí)", was designed by Zeng Liansong, an economist by trade and a talented artist who lived in Ruian (瑞安 ruì ān), Zhejiang. He designed it in response to a circular distributed by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in July 1949, shortly after they came to power. Out of some 3,000 plus entries received for the design competition, Zeng's was chosen after being nominated as one of the 38 finalists. Mao Zedong hoisted the first flag on a pole overlooking Tiananmen Square on the day of its unveiling.

The design uses red as its background (symbolizing the blood of the soldiers who were lost in wars) and bright yellow for its stars. The larger star symbolizes the leadership of the Communist Party of China. The four small stars represent the four classes: the workers, the peasants, the petty bourgeoisie, and patriotic capitalists[citation needed] (Alternate: four "revolutionary" classes of Chinese society: worker, farmer, student, and soldier)[citation needed].(Another alternate: The large star represents the Han people, the four smaller stars the Manchu, Mongol, Uighur and Tibetans.)[citation needed] The design went through several changes and was finally approved by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on September 27, 1949 at their First Plenary Session. The original design plans contained several alterations in comparison with the modern-day flag.

Three of the original flag candidates showed the large golden star (with no additional stars anywhere else) along with one, two, or three yellow bars (horizontal) at the bottom of the flag, representing the Yangtze, Huang He (Yellow River) and the Zhujiang River (Pearl River). They were not chosen by the officials, however, because the very presence of these bars appeared to suggest the idea of a tearing or splitting of the nation.

Two other designs featuring the large star with four smaller stars were also discussed. One of them showed four stars in a vertical line below the large golden star. This was rejected out of fears that it would suggest class incompatibilities and struggles. The other flag was very much the current-day PRC flag, but had the hammer and sickle in red, inside the largest golden star. The Communist icon was removed because the PRC would be a Maoist leadership, not a complete mirror of a Communist state. The hammer and sickle in the flag, were it to survive, would also further complicate relations with the other four stars it represented (two smaller stars already represented the workers and the farmers; if the hammer (workers) and the sickle (farmers) were added once again to the flag, there could well be class inequalities.)

The usage of the flag is governed by the Law of the National Flag of the People's Republic of China. It is often raised to the music of the "March of the Volunteers," the national anthem. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China defines the flag in Article 136.

Flag construction[edit | edit source]

File:Construction sheet of Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg

Construction sheet

The exact definition of the look of the flag is that it is a red field, with five yellow pentagrams, or regularly defined five-pointed stars, which are placed on the flag according to certain rules. The precise 'generation' of the elements of the flag can be described as follows:

Let there be a rectangle with relative height 2 and length 3. Color it red. Divide the length and height of this figure (both) in half, so that the remaining rectangle is the 'top left' partition, having a ratio equal to the original rectangle. The partition in question has an area 1/4 of the total flag. By constructing 9 and 14 new horizontal and vertical, equidistant (and imaginary) lines, divide this new rectangular region into 150 squares, with a height of ten squares, and a length of 15 squares.

From the top left corner, 'pace' to the right by five units (equal to the side of the new squares), and 'down' by five units. At this point between the previously described squares, describe an (imaginary) circle with a radius equal to three of the recently described squares. As before, beginning at the top left of the figure, use the same procedure to describe four new (smaller) circles. The centers of the four new circles are given as follows: from the top left of the figure, using the square sides as units, pace off ten right, two down; twelve right, four down; twelve right, seven down; and ten right, nine down: use those coordinates as the centers of the new circles, and describe circles with radii equal to one square side, about each of those four points.

Now one should have five (imaginary) circles in your figure. These circles are used as references to describe the geometric pentagrams, or yellow five-pointed stars, which stand on the red field of the flag. They are constructed as follows. In the case of the circle with radius equal to three square sides (the big one), five vertices of the pentagram are needed. Construct a segment which is parallel to the vertical side of the flag, passing through the circle's edge, and its center. The vertex on the circle's edge will be one of the (big) pentagram's vertices.

Now, a geometer must use a little creativity. Using geometry, specifically proposition 11, from book IV of Euclid's Elements, one must construct the vertices of a regular pentagon on the circle, using the first vertex described above as reference. One must then join the vertices in such a way as to generate the look of a pentagram, and color the resulting figure yellow. As for the smaller circles/pentagrams, the reference vertices for each smaller pentagram are described as follows: the reference vertex for each smaller circle is colinear with the center of the smaller circle in question, and the center of the larger circle. It therefore rests upon the small circle under examination. It remains to apply the procedure used to make the large yellow pentagram, to make the smaller ones.

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