Flag of China
|Design||A large golden star within an arc of four smaller golden stars, in the canton, on a field of red. |
On July 4, 1949, the sixth working group of the Preparatory Committee of the New Political Consultative Conference (新政治協商會議籌備會, PCNPCC) created a notice to submit designs for the national flag. After a few changes, the notice was published in the papers People's Daily, Beiping Liberation News, Xinmin News, Dazhong Daily, Guangming Daily, Jinbu Daily and Tianjin Daily during a period between July 15–26.
Zeng Liansong was working in Shanghai at the time the announcement came out; he wanted to create a flag design to express his patriotic enthusiasm for the new country. In the middle of July, he sat down in his attic for multiple nights to come up with designs. His inspiration for the current design comes from the stars shining in the night sky. He thought of a Chinese proverb "longing for the stars, longing for the moon," (盼星星盼月亮, pàn xīngxīng pàn yuèliàng) which shows yearning. Later, he realized that the CPC was the great savior (大救星, dà jiùxīng) of the Chinese people, being represented by a larger star. The idea of four small stars came from On the People's Democratic Dictatorship a speech by Mao Zedong, which defined the Chinese people as consisting of four social classes. Yellow also implies that China belongs to the Chinese people, a "yellow race". After working out the details of the placement of the stars and their sizes (he had tried to put all of the stars in the center, but believed it would be too heavy and dull), he sent his "Five Stars on a Field of Red" (紅地五星旗, hóng dì wǔxīng qí) design to the committee in the middle of August.
As of August 20, a total of 3,012 designs were sent to the flag committee, which included input from committee members themselves, such as Guo Moruo and Tan Kah Kee. From August 16 to 20, the designs were viewed at the Beijing Hotel and culled down to a list of 38. These designs are collected into a book named A Reference of National Flag Designs (國旗圖案參考資料). This book was then submitted to the newly established Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) for further discussion. However, Zeng's design wasn't included until Tian Han nominated it again.
In the morning of September 23, the representatives of the CPPCC discussed the national flags, but came to no conclusion. Some didn't like the symbolism which Zeng attached to the four smaller stars, and said it shouldn't include the bourgeoisie. The design Mao and others liked had a giant golden star in the corner on a red flag that was charged with a golden horizontal bar. But this design was strongly opposed by Zhang Zhizhong due to the golden bar symbolizing the tearing apart of the revolution and the country. In the night, Peng Guanghan (彭光涵) recommended Zeng's design to Zhou Enlai, Zhou was satisfied with it and asked for a larger copy of the design to be made. Tan Kah Kee also gave his advice to Mao and Zhou that the power characteristics are more important than Chinese geography characteristics, so there's no need to insist on the golden bar which stands for the Yellow River. Two days later, Mao had a meeting in his office about the flag. He persuaded everyone to adopt Zeng's design, with some slight modifications. According to earlier discussions at the Beijing Hotel, the hammer and sickle from Zeng's original design was removed since it was similar to the Flag of the Soviet Union. On September 27, 1949, Zeng's modified design was selected unanimously by the First Plenary Session of CPPCC, which changed the flag's name to "Five-star Red Flag". 
According to the current government interpretation of the flag, the red background symbolizes the revolution and the golden colours were used to "radiate" on the red background. The five stars and their relationship represents the unity of Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. The orientation of the stars shows that the unity should go around a center.
In the original description of the flag by Zeng, the larger star symbolizes the Communist Party of China, and the four smaller stars that surround the big star symbolize the four social classes (the working class, the peasantry, the urban petite bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie) of Chinese people mentioned in Mao's "On the People's Democratic Dictatorship".
The five stars that formed an ellipse represent the territory of China (including Outer Mongolia) which is shaped like a Begonia leaf. It is sometimes stated that the five stars of the flag represent the five largest ethnic groups. This is generally regarded as an erroneous conflation with the "Five Races Under One Union" flag, used 1912–28 by the Beiyang Government of Republic of China, whose different-coloured stripes represented the Han, Manchus, Mongols, Hui, and Tibetans.