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Chinese Republican Flags - 1911-12

Mysterious and Obscure Flags

Last modified: 2017-09-29 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: china | chinese republic | sun | nine star | taijitu |
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Nine Star Sun Flag

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 13 May 2015

Illustrated on the Shanghai Times, 19 October 1911.
Red with a yellow disc (specifically a sun) surrounded by nine five-pointed yellow stars. Actual existence doubtful; possibly an erroneous depiction of the Iron Blood 18-Star Flag, and perhaps based on the house flag of the China Merchants Steam Navigation Company (sometimes mistakenly thought of as the Chinese Merchant Ensign) which was red with a yellow disc (specifically a moon in that case). Fictional or not, this 'Revolutionary Army Flag' was depicted in a number of patriotic graphics during the late 1911 - early 1912 era.
Miles Li, 13 May 2015


Nine Star Taijitu Flag

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 14 May 2015

Probably first used by some of the revolutionaries in Wuchang Uprising, 10 October 1911. White with a red and black taijitu (taegeuk) bearing two white dots, surrounded by nine six-pointed black stars each bearing a red dot. Proportions probably 1:1. Existence confirmed by a photograph taken in Shanghai by Francisco Eugene Stafford (1883-1938). Possibly influenced by the Iron Blood 18-Star Flag; perhaps a prototype of the alleged Nine Star Sun Flag. A (possibly erroneous) version is already llustrated as 'The Flag of Army Commander'
Miles Li, 14 May 2015


Red Sky, White Sun, All Field White" Flag

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 15 May 2015

An obscure design of naval ensign. White with a red canton bearing a nine-pointed white sun/star. The illustration here is based on a photograph of the flag displayed at the Navy's celebration of the first anniversary of Wuchang Uprising on 10 October 1912. A version of this flag, with the canton being half the length and half the width of the flag, and with the length of each ray equaled to only half of the diameter of the disc, was illustrated on Jane's Fighting Ships 1914 as (incorrectly) the 'Ensign' of China. Probably an incorrect variant of the official naval ensign ("Blue Sky, White Sun. All Field Red"), with the canton possibly influenced by the Iron Blood 18-Star Flag. Also compare with the contemporary unofficial naval ensign.
Miles Li, 15 May 2015


Marshal and Vice Marshal's Flags

National Flag proposal, 1906-07; Marshal's flag, December 1911

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 16 May 2015

Vice Marshal's flag, December 1911

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 16 May 2015

In the winter of 1906-07, Tongmenghui (the predecessor of Kuomintang) held a meeting of Chinese revolutionaries in exile in in Tokyo, discussing the design for the future national flag of the Chinese Republic. Among the proposals was the 'Blue Sky, White Sun' flag advocated by Sun Yat-Sen, and the 'Hashtag' flag proposed by Liao Zhongkai and Huang Xing. The latter flag was red, with a blue canton bearing a white symbol resembling the Chinese character 'jing' (井, meaning a well). This 'hashtag' thus divided the canton into nine equal parts, representing the nine ancient provinces of China, as well as the 'well-field system' of land distribution in ancient China, which theoretically divided a square of land equally into eight private plots surrounding a ninth, communal plot.
Sun Yat-Sen despised the 'Hashtag' flag, seeing its symbolism as a throwback to ancient feudalism; Huang Xing disliked 'Blue Sky, White Sun' flag, thinking it too closely resembled the Japanese flags. To address Huang Xing's concern, Sun Yat-Sen came up with a hybrid design, the so-called 'Blue Sky, White Sun, All Field Red'. Nonetheless the debate remained deadlocked among the several factions, and was eventually set aside until after the Wuchang Uprising.
On 4 December 1911, a number of provisional provincial governments' representatives meeting in Shanghai elected Hunag Xing to the office of Marshal; his original 'Hashtag' flag design was accordingly adapted as the Marshal's rank flag. The same meeting also elected Li Yuanhong to the office of Vice Marshal, whose rank flag was similar to the Marshal's but with a white canton and blue 'hashtag'. The elections were neither recognized by provisional provincial governments' representatives elsewhere in China, nor accepted by the men themselves.
The ephemeral titles of Marshal and Vice Marshal became extinct when Sun Yat-Sen was sworn in as the Provisional President on 1 January 1912. Nevertheless the Marshal's and Vice Marshal's flags were depicted in a number of patriotic graphics during the late 1911 - early 1912 era, and were later used for some years as the flags of the Zhigong Party (founded in San Francisco in 1925, now a minor legal political party in PRC).
Like other Chinese republican flags of the 1911-12 era, the 'Hashtag' flags came in a number of variations. Some had the width of each 'hashtag' stripe equaled to that of each rectangle; other had the cantons in squares rather than rectangular. The flag image here are based on an actual flag made in Tokyo in 1906-07.
Miles Li, 16 May 2015


18-Star Han Flag

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 17 May 2015

Also known as the Dahan (Great Han) Flag; used exclusively by the Dahan Sichuan Military Government (established 27 November 1911 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province; merged with the Chongqing-based Sichuan Military Government, 2 February 1912). White with the Chinese ideogram 'Han' (the majority ethnicity in China) inside a ring, surrounded by 18 small rings (representing stars). Proportions possibly 1:1. Probably inspired by verbal descriptions of the Iron Blood 18-Star Flag. The image on Wikimedia Commons from which the GIF is based upon showed an all red badge; however contemporary accounts described the badge as having a red letter and eighteen black rings, without mentioning the colour of the large ring.
Miles Li, 17 May 2015


'Hashtag' flag of the Huizhou Revolutionary Army

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 18 May 2015

Use by the army of Chen Jiongming from its occupation of Huizhou, Guangdong Province on 1 November 1911, to its arrival at Guangzhou on 29 November 1911. Red, with a square yellow canton bearing a white symbol resembling the Chinese character 'jing' (井, meaning a well). This 'hashtag' thus divided the canton into nine equal parts, representing the nine ancient provinces of China, as well as the 'well-field system' of land distribution in ancient China, which theoretically divided a square of land equally into eight private plots surrounding a ninth, communal plot.
Chen Jiongming took the idea of his 'Hashtag' flag from the original 'Hashtag' flag proposed by Liao Zhongkai, a fellow Huizhou native, in the winter of 1906-7 (see above 'Marshal and Vice Marshal's Flags').
Interestingly,when the Zhigong Party (now a minor legal political party in PRC) was founded in San Francisco in 1925, Chen Jiongming became its chairman, and the 'Hashtag' flags became its party flags - the versions previously adapted as the Marshal and Vice Marshal's rank flags, but not the version used by Chen Jiongming in 1911.
Miles Li, 18 May 2015

Does the Zhigong Party still use the flag/flags? And do other minor parties use some flags, or is the Communist Party the only one with a flag of its own?
Tomislav Todorović, 18 May 2015

The Zhigong Party has not had an official flag since siding with the PRC in 1949. AFAICT the Communist Party is currently the only one with a flag of its own.
Miles Li, 18 May 2015


White Flags

Plain white version:

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 20 May 2015

Version with the ideogram 'Han':

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 20 May 2015

Used by various groups of Chinese revolutionaries since at least 1905, White Flags - sometimes with Chinese characters written on them - were widely flown during the early stage of the 1911 Revolution, and carried a number of meanings:
- It recalled the White Flag reputedly flown by King Wu of Zhou, who overthrew King Zhou of Shang circa 1046 BC;
- White is the colour of mourning in Chinese culture, thereby symbolizing martyrdom for the revolutionary cause;
- As White Flag is the international symbol of truce, it is flown in areas under republican control as a sign of capitulation to the revolutionaries.
There were a number of variations of writings on the White Flags, such as 'Han' (the majority ethnicity in China), 'Dahan' (Great Han), 'Xinhan' (New Han), and 'Guangfu' (Restoration).
Miles Li, 20 May 2015


'White Sky, Blue Sun, All Field Red'

[War Flag of China Republic]
image by Miles Li, 01 June 2015

Used in Shanghai and Hangzhou in Early November 1911. Red with a white canton bearing a white sun disc with eight blue rays. Proportions 2:3. Obviously an erroneous interpretation of the 'Blue Sky, White Sun, All Field Red' flag.
Miles Li, 01 June 2015