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China Republic national flag, 1912-1929

Last modified: 2004-10-23 by
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[1912 Flag of China]
by Mark Sensen, 1996-06-26



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1912 Republic of China

In 1912 China was a single republic with two different governments. North China, with capital Beijing, was governed by General Yuan Shih-k'ai, while the South was governed by Sun Yat-Sen and the Kuo-min-tang. The only common flag between them was the national flag (with five colours), which was also used as the merchant (civil) ensign. All other flags were different.
Mario Fabretto, 20 October1997


The 1912 Chinese flag had five horizontal stripes; each color representing a people but there are at least two different assignments:

red = Manchurians
yellow = Han Chinese
blue = Mongolians
white = Muslims
black = Tibetans
from "Outlines of Chinese Symbolism and Art Motives" by C.A.S. Williams (Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh, 1941, reprinted by Dover, 1976)
Bruce Tindall, 05 December 1995

red = Han Chinese
yellow = Manchuria
blue = Mongolians
white = Tibet
black = Muslims

from a book by Whitney Smith
Nathan Augustine, 07 December 1995

The five-color flag was superseded by the Nationalist Government/Kuomintang flag when they finally succeeded in winning the north in the late 20's. I understand the five-color flag was revived by the Japanese and used by their puppet government in China between 1937/8 through 1945. I have seen old postcards showing this use.

My National Geographic of Oct. 1914 shows the national flag to have five (5) horizontal stripes, from top down red, yellow, blue, white and black. The naval flag was the same as the current flag of Taiwan. The army flag was red with a eight pointed blue star. The points of the star were tipped with yellow balls, fimbrated blue. Eight (8) yellow circles were arranged in a circle in the middle of the star around a central yellow ball.
Kent McKeever, 16 October 1996

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