Taiwan’s official flag features a background of bright red. In the top left corner there is a small rectangle of blue–also referred to as a canton–on which a white sun with 12 distinct rays is depicted. A bright blue ring connects the base of these twelve triangular rays.
The three colors that make up the Taiwan flag represent the Three Principles of the People given by the first Republic of China’s president, Sun Yat-sen. The blue symbolizes liberty and nationalism, the white stands for equality and democracy, while the red is a symbol of the red earth, and fraternity among men. The 12 rays of the white sun inside the canton represent the 12 months of the calendar year, as well as the traditional 12, two-hour divisions of each day–referred to by the Chinese as “shichens.”
The canton–the blue rectangle at the corner of the flag featuring the white sun–was designed by a Republic Revolution martyr by the name of Lu Hao-tung. The red background was added by the aforementioned Sun Yat-sen. Although the flag was initially adopted in October of 1928, it did not come into official use in Taiwan until 1945.
Because Taiwan has been ruled by various types of government bodies at different times in history, the flag has undergone several changes. For example, in 1911 at the time of the Wuchang Uprising that eventually led to the creation of the Republic, numerous revolutionary armies observed different flags. In the provinces of Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangzi, Guangdong and Wuhan, a solid blue flag with a white sun was universally accepted as Taiwan’s flag. A variation of this flag featuring 18 yellow stars was also used around that same time, with the 18 stars symbolizing the 18 administrative divisions at place in the early 1900s. A flag featuring five horizontal stripes in red, yellow, blue, white and black was yet another variation used throughout the early 20th century.
Certain points are used to govern the protocol with regard to flying the Taiwan flag. When flown in front of government buildings, it must be displayed horizontally and aligned with a photo or portrait of Sun Yat-sen directly underneath. When it is hoisted or lowered, those in attendance must engage in a right-hand salute held in flat alignment with the right eyebrow and the National Banner Song must be played whenever the flag is hoisted.
With its interesting background and beautiful colors, it is not surprising that the Taiwan flag is such an intriguing topic for those interested in Chinese history.