The “white sun in a blue sky” portion of the ROC’s national flag was originally designed by Lu Hao-tung, a martyr of the Chinese revolution. Lu presented his design in a meeting of the Xing-Zhong Hui (Society for Regenerating China) in Hong Kong on February 21, 1895. It was redesigned to include a crimson background during the years just prior to the revolution. This later design is still used today as the national emblem.
Before the Wuchang Uprising in 1911, the revolutionary armies in different provinces had different flags: the one used in the Wuhan area had 18 yellow stars, representing the 18 administrative divisions of China at the time; the Shanghai army adopted a five-color flag of red, yellow, blue, white, and black, representing the five main ethnic groups of China; and Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, and Guizhou provinces used the “white sun in a blue sky.”
When the Provisional Government was first established, the five-color flag was adopted as the national flag, the 18-star flag was used by the army, and the “white sun in a blue sky” by the navy. The current ROC national flag was officially adopted on May 5, 1921.
The 12 points of the white sun in the emblem represent the Chinese conceptualization of a day’s being divided into 12 two-hour periods, which symbolizes unceasing progress. At one level, the three colors of the blue, white, and crimson stand for the Three Principles of the People: nationalism, democracy, and social well-being. At another level, the colors embody qualities that evoke other concepts enumerated in the Three Principles: the blue signifies brightness, purity, and freedom, and thus a government that is of the people; the white, honesty, selflessness, and equality, and thus a government that is by the people; and the crimson, sacrifice, bloodshed, and brotherly love, thus a government that is for the people.
National flag anthem (Lyrics by Tai Chuan-hsien; Music by Huang Tzu)