National Emblem of the People's Republic of China

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National Emblem of the People's Republic of China
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China (2).svg
ArmigerPeople's Republic of China
AdoptedSeptember 20, 1950
Other elementsStars from the flag of the People's Republic of China
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China
Simplified Chinese中华人民共和国国徽
Traditional Chinese中華人民共和國國徽

The National Emblem of the People's Republic of China contains in a red circle a representation of Tiananmen Gate, the entrance gate to the Forbidden City, where Mao Zedong declared the foundation of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Above this representation are the five stars found on the national flag. The largest star represents the Communist Party of China, while the four smaller stars represent the four social classes as defined in Maoism. The emblem is described as being "composed of patterns of the national flag":[1]

...The red color of the flag symbolizes revolution and the yellow color of the stars the golden brilliant rays radiating from the vast red land. The design of four smaller stars surrounding a bigger one signifies the unity of the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC)

—China Yearbook 2004[2]

The outer border of the red circle shows sheaves of wheat and the inner sheaves of rice, which together represent agricultural workers. At the center of the bottom portion of the border is a cog-wheel that represents industrial workers.

According to The Description of the National Emblem of the People's Republic of China (中华人民共和国国徽图案说明), these elements taken together symbolise the revolutionary struggles of the Chinese people since the May Fourth Movement and the coalition of the proletariat which succeeded in founding the People's Republic of China.


National standard of China: GB 15093-2008 specifies the construction, material and color of the national emblem.

Proportion Construction
GB 15093-2008 Pic 2.jpg GB 15093-2008 Pic 3.jpg


Beiyang period[edit]

Douze emblemes des rites memoires historiques V3c23 205.PNG
Douze emblemes des rites memoires historiques V3c23 204.PNG
National emblem of the Republic of China (1912–1927) and the Empire of China (1915–1916)

The Empire of China during the Manchu-led Qing dynasty did not have an official state emblem, but the flag featured the azure dragon on a plain yellow field with a red sun of the three-legged crow[citation needed] in the upper left corner. It became the first national flag of China and is usually referred to as the Yellow Dragon Flag.

Following the end of Manchu rule, new national symbols were deemed necessary by the leaders to represent the changed circumstances. The renowned writers Lu Xun, Qian Daosun, and Xu Shoushang from the Ministry of Education were tasked with designing a new national emblem. It was presented on August 28, 1912, and was adopted as national emblem in February 1913. President-Emperor Yuan Shikai continued its use during his short imperial reign from 1915 to 1916. The emblem is based on the ancient symbols of the Twelve Ornaments.[3] These are first mentioned as already ancient in the Book of Documents by Emperor Shun, who was one of the legendary Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. Oral tradition holds that he lived sometime between 2294 and 2184 BCE.[4] According to the book, the emperor wished for the symbols to be used on official robes of the state.

Commander-in-Chief Flag of the Republic of China, 1912-1928

The symbols were considered most auspicious and therefore as a set were reserved only for the emperor to be shown on his ceremonial robes.[5] The first national emblem arranges these symbols in such a way to reflect the order of achievement in western heraldry.[6]

In this emblem, the coat of arms consisted of:

  • The supporter sinister is a dragon, which symbolizes strength and adaptability. The azure dragon already featured on the national flag during the preceding Qing dynasty.
  • On the back of the dragon is fire, which symbolises light and brightness.
  • Behind the head of the dragon is the crescent moon of the moon rabbit who is constantly pounding the elixir of life.
  • The supporter dexter is a fenghuang, or pheasant-phoenix, and represents peace and refinement.
  • The phoenix holds pondweed or algae in its right talon, a symbol of purity and brightness.
  • Behind its head are three stars, which could be the Fu Lu Shou stars, which symbolise happiness, prosperity and longevity.
  • Both creatures hold in one of each claws the zongyi (Chinese: 宗彝), which is a sacrificial cup, symbolising devotion and loyalty.

The dragon and phoenix represent the natural world. In yin and yang terminology, a dragon is male yang and the phoenix a female yin. Therefore, the emperor was often identified as the dragon, while the empress was the phoenix. The inclusion of the phoenix into the national symbol, opposite but equal to the dragon, can be seen as a symbol of women being equal to men, and a visual and poignant representation of women's rights in the new China.

  • Featuring as the crest on top is an abstract symbol of the sun of the three-legged crow.
  • In the middle functioning as the escutcheon is the axe head, which symbolises courage and resolution, but also executive justice. The blade of the axe head is pointing downwards, the head is shaped like a sloping mountain.
  • Overlaid on the axe head are grains of rice, which symbolise nourishment and the country's agriculture. It can also be seen as a symbol of the concept of a moderately prosperous society.
  • In the center of the axe head framed by a pentagon is a simplified symbol of a rice ear, which again stresses the importance of agriculture as the basis of the country's wealth and prosperity. The shape on the emblem is based on a carved stone dating to the Han dynasty.
  • The downward-pointing blade of the axe head features a hardened edge in shape of the four sacred mountains. These represent tranquility and steadiness. The fifth Center Great Mountain is represented by the axe head.

The mountains represent earth, the cups metal, the pondweed water, the rice grains wood, and fire, which are all representations of wu xing.

  • The figure 亞 fu underneath the axe represents two animals with their backside together. This symbolises the capability to make a clear distinction between right and wrong.
  • The fu sign is in the middle of complex interlacing ribbons, which connect the dragon, the phoenix and the axe to each other. The ribbons could symbolise Great Unity and Harmonious Society.

Coins issued during this time feature the emblem.[7][8] A variation of the emblem was shown on orders and illustrations.[9]

Nationalist period[edit]

The KMT and ROC flags displayed at a party building in Kaohsiung.
Blue Sky with a White Sun emblem of the Republic of China (1928–present)

The Northern Expedition led by General Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang party led to the overthrow of the fractious yet internationally recognized Beiyang government in 1928. This ushered in a one-party state under the Kuomintang known as the Nanjing decade. The state emblem was therefore replaced with the Kuomintang Blue Sky with a White Sun party symbol. The "Blue Sky, White Sun, and a Wholly Red Earth" flag has remained the flag of the Republic of China to this day. During this period, under the KMT's political tutelage, the Blue Sky with a White Sun Flag shared the same prominence as the ROC flag. A common wall display consisted of the KMT flag perched on the left and the ROC flag perched on the right, each tilted at an angle with a portrait of National Father Sun Yat-sen displayed in the center. After the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic of China, the party flag was removed from such a display and the national flag was moved to the center.

Since the ROC government moved to Taiwan and especially in the years since the end of martial law the Kuominmtang flag has lost some of its prominence. However, it is still frequently seen on KMT party buildings in political rallies and other meetings of KMT and the pan-blue coalition.

People's Republic[edit]

Emblem of CPPCC, designed by China Central Academy of Fine Arts, which their first round proposal was based on.

On July 10, 1949 the government held a public competition for the design of the national emblem, however no satisfactory designs were selected. Therefore, on September 27, 1949, the First Plenary Session of CPPCC decided to invite designers for the proposals of the national emblem and two groups from two universities were selected in September 1949. Three proposals were selected for the first round discussion:

  • The designers from China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Zhang Ding, Zhang Guangyu, Zhou Lingzhao and Zhong Ling, handed out their proposals with 5 variations on September 25, 1949. The symbolism of their first design was: The red star symbolizes Communism and the Communist party of China. The cog and wheat/rice symbolizes unification of industrial workers and peasants. The rising earth with China in red symbolizes the socialist revolution in China and the world revolution ideal on Asian counties. 31 rays behind the earth symbolizes the 31 provincial administrative divisions at that time. The name of the People's Republic of China is written on the red ribbon below.[10] The design was based on their design of the emblem of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and was influenced by Socialist heraldry of the Eastern Bloc.
  • The designers from the Department of Architecture at Tsinghua University, Liang Sicheng, Lin Huiyin, Mo Zongjiang, Zhu Changzhong, Li Zongjin and Gao Zhuang, handed their proposal on October 30, 1949. According to their proposal, the design was a mixture of traditional Chinese culture and Maoist New Democratic Revolution ideals. The design imitated the style of mirrors in Han dynasty, symbolizing brightness. The disc was made of jade, a symbol of peace and unity. Decorative carvings on the disc was in Tang dynasty style. The stars from national flag and a cog were placed in the center of the disc, surrounded by wheats, symbolizing unity of working class and socialism. The red ribbon tied a smaller jade ring, symbolising the unification of Chinese people.[11]
  • The other proposal by Zhang Ding, Zhang Guangyu, Zhou Lingzhao, was a perspective depiction of Tian'anmen gate.
Second round proposals by Tsinghua University

Members of the first CPPCC committee discussed these three proposals on June 10, 1950. The result of the discussion was, the China Central Academy of Fine Arts proposal was too colourful to be regarded as trademarks, and proposal from Tsinghua University was regarded as bourgeois due to its use of traditional symbols. The committee suggested the groups include the Tian'anmen Gate, a symbol of Chinese revolution that served as the location of the May Fourth Movement and foundation ceremony of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949.[12]

The two groups then worked on a second round of proposals. The second proposal from Tsinghua University standardized the design of the Tian'anmen Gate on the emblem and selected red and yellow as the main colours.[13] Their proposal was selected and the design was standardized and simplified by Gao Zhuang.[14] This design was officially made the national emblem on 20 September 1950 by the Central People's Government.

The emblem is also displayed, along with the national flag, at the end of a video clip with the national anthem, March of the Volunteers, regularly played on Chinese television such as state-run China Central Television (CCTV) on a daily basis.

Emblems of Subdivisions[edit]

Before the Communist takeover of Mainland China, the ROC had provinces design their own emblems. Only two emblems were used so far.

On April 15, 1985, Taiyuan City officially announced its emblem, becoming the first city in the People's Republic of China to have a city emblem.

Hong Kong and Macao each have their own emblem. The National People's Congress have passed the standardized use of the two special administrative regions' emblems.

Under Chinese law since November 1997, only Hong Kong and Macau are allowed to have their own emblems and other localities that had them had to stop using theirs.[15] This rule was ignored in 2011 when the city of Chengdu chose the Golden Sun Bird found under the city's Jinsha site as its emblem.[16]



Special administrative regions[edit]

Historical emblems[edit]


  1. ^ Description of the National Emblem from Chinese Government web portal. Archived 2012-05-02 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ National flag Archived 2007-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Description of proposed national emblem to the state council - Lu Xun, February 1913
  4. ^ Williams, C.A.S (2001). Chinese Symbolism and Art Motifs (4th ed.). Tuttle Publishing. p. 386. ISBN 0-8048-3704-X.
  5. ^ Williams (2001), p. 387.
  6. ^ Description of proposed national emblem to the state council - Lu Xun, February 1913
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ 国徽图案参考资料, Reference on proposals of national emblem, 1949.
  11. ^ 徐志摩诗文网 Archived 2013-05-14 at the Wayback Machine, 拟制国徽图案说明, Explanation of national emblem proposal
  12. ^ 到底是谁设计了国徽,新华网
  13. ^ 正投影 国徽设计中亮丽的一笔 Archived 2013-05-14 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ 高庄:命运多舛的国徽浮雕定型设计者
  15. ^ 中共中央办公厅、国务院办公厅关于禁止自行制作和使用地方旗、徽的通知 (Chinese Communist Central Governmental Notice to Ban Making and Using Local Flags and Emblems)
  16. ^ "Chengdu Unveils its New City Logo". 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2012-09-30.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]