The flag of Taiwan, or more correctly the flag of the Republic of China, is an important and very controversial symbol of the country’s identity and history. The flag consists of a background of red with a blue canton bearing a white stylized sun. The significance of the three colors (red, blue, and white) and the 12-rays sun are rooted in Chinese culture and recent history, and therefore, for a lot people, has nothing to do with Taiwan.
Symbolism of the flag
The significance of the three colors of the flag is rooted in the Three Principles of the People set up by Sun Yat-Sen, the founding father of the Republic of China.
- The red color symbolizes sacrifice, bloodshed, and brotherly love.
- The blue color represents brightness, purity, and freedom.
- The white color represents honesty, selflessness, and equality.
- The 12 rays of the sun represent the Chinese conceptualization of a day (being divided into 12 two-hour periods), symbolizing constant progress.
History of the flag
The first national flag of the Republic of China was adopted in 1911 and consisted of five equal horizontal stripes of red, yellow, blue, white, and black, symbolizing the principal ethnic groups of the nation.
However, Sun Yat-sen, the country’s original leader, did not consider the five-colored flag appropriate, reasoning that the horizontal order implied a hierarchy. Instead, he favored the “Blue Sky with a White Sun” flag designed by Lu Hao-tung, which was unveiled in February 1895 in Hong Kong.
In addition to the “Blue Sky with a White Sun” flag, Sun Yat-sen also added the “Red Earth” to the flag to signify the blood of the revolutionaries who sacrificed themselves in order to overthrow the Qing dynasty and create the Republic of China. This “Blue Sky with a White Sun, and Red Earth” flag was later officially adopted on May 5, 1921.
As we can see, the flag’s history lies in continental China, during a time when Taiwan was under Japanese control. It is therefore understandable that many Taiwanese do not see this flag as being representative of their country. Yet, many do take the flag out proudly, as it is also a symbol of their political separation of Communist China.
Three interesting facts about the Taiwan flag
Here are 3 interesting facts related to the Taiwan (ROC) flag:
- Due to Taiwan’s unique political status, the flag is banned from most international organizations and events
- The flag has its own anthem. You can listen to it below;
- The flag is not recognized as legitimate by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Taiwan
Other flags of Taiwan
The “Blue Sky with a White Sun and Red Earth” flag is not the only symbol used to represent Taiwan. Other commonly seen flags include the “Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee” flag and the “Taiwan Independence” flag.
Taiwan Olympic Flag
As Olympic Committee and other major international sport organizations don’t recognize Taiwan as an independent state, the country isn’t allowed to use its national flag when taking part in international sport events. Instead, Taiwan uses a separate flag, the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee flag, known in Taiwan as the ‘Plum Blossom Banner’.
Taiwan Independence Flag
While there are no official flag for a proposed Republic of Taiwan, the above green flag is the most commonly used by Taiwan independence supporters.
It is also common for independence supporters to use the emoji Norfolk Island flag online (🇳🇫), due to its similar appearance to the above mentioned flag.
In conclusion, the flag of Taiwan (ROC), is a complex and controversial symbol that represents the country’s complex identity and history. The significance of the three colors, red, blue and white, as well as the 12 rays of the sun are deeply rooted in Chinese culture and recent history, which may not resonate with all Taiwanese people.
Find more about the flag of Taiwan and other its symbols on the official website of the government of the Republic of China.