A flag for Taiwan

The week of Chen Yunlin’s visit to Taiwan saw unprecedented attacks by the police on the display of the Republic of China flag which most people identify with as the national symbol of Taiwan. When police deliberately seized ROC flags and simultaneously allowed the display of the PRC flag to welcome Chen Yunlin I felt this signified an abandonment of Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity. Although I don’t feel the ROC flag is truly representative of Taiwan as a nation it is still the official flag under the constitution. As such it must be treated with a great deal of respect.

This event has inspired me to write this post looking at the ROC flag and some alternative flags and symbols for Taiwan. There are a number of web pages which provide useful information about the ROC flag and other flags of Taiwan. Taiwandc.org has a page about flags of Taiwan which includes some alternative flags that represent Taiwan. The Wikipedia article Flag of the Republic of China also has some good detail about the flag’s history and meaning. There is a flag of Taiwan group at flickr which has a good selection of photos of the ROC flag in a variety of contexts.There is also a Wikipedia article, proposed flag of Taiwan, which contains some alternative designs. Read on for more images and discussion.

The Yellow Tiger Flag was used during the short-lived 1895 Republic of Formosa.

The ROC flag is very similar to the flag of Burma (Myanmar). This can sometimes be used to Taiwan’s advantage when the ROC flag is banned at international sporting events.

In 1996, a “New Name, New Flag, New Anthem” campaign was launched to rename the Republic of China, replace the flag of the Republic of China, and the National Anthem of the Republic of China, all of which were brought to Taiwan when the Kuomintang government retreated to the island in 1949.After a contest in which 187 different flags were entered, the “hearts-in-harmony flag” emerged as the winner. The green field was to symbolize the natural beauty of the island and the need to protect the environment; the white in the Canadian pale was to symbolize the purity of the people on the island and the desire to preserve the natural beauty; and the device in the centre was to symbolize four hearts in harmony, representing the four population groups on the island: aborigines, Hakka, Hoklo, and mainlanders. (Wikipedia)

I think the four-hearted flag is good because its design promotes unity. In choosing a new flag for Taiwan it might be necessary to make some compromises in the design to be inclusive of all Taiwanese people. Some other flags which use only green and white might be identified too closely with the DPP and pro-independence groups.

My friend Ben Goren designed the flag above and describes it as follows.

My intention is that it be interpreted as follows:

White = safe air / integrity and honesty
Blue = clean water / respect and tradition
Green = healthy land / environmental sustainability

When designing it I did not have the ‘T’ in mind – it just turned out that way.  For me it is like a tree of life – for others the T stands for Taiwan.

I created this image based on a poster I photographed at the 1106 protest in Taipei. Of course it is not a flag for Taiwan, but symbolic of what happened during Chen Yunlin’s visit.

The design above combines the ROC and DPP flags. I think it symbolises the historical legacy of the ROC that still burdens the development of Taiwan’s democracy.

What do you think about these flags? Should Taiwan retain the ROC flag or adopt a new design? If you have designed your own Taiwan flag post a link to it or e-mail it to me and I will include it in a future post on this blog.

15 thoughts on “A flag for Taiwan

  1. They all seem a bit too politically charged. I think the new flag should try and go beyond any party or political history and try to be indirectly symbolic of the core values in today’s Taiwanese society shared by all people (preferably colors not including neither blue, green, or red).

    (what happened to your RSS reader count ? :O :P)

  2. Fili, I am not sure what happened to the RSS reader count. It just dropped by about 100 in the last week. I haven’t made any changes to the settings.

    Leaving out blue, green and red limits the choice of colors somewhat. I think using them in some sort of combination is OK. Maybe there would be one thing that could unite all Taiwanese: a pink Hello Kitty flag!

  3. Strange. Should come back. You were giving me motivation to excel 😛

    Hello Kitty is too Japanese. How about a betelnut girl instead (we can keep the red then if we put some yellowish goo in there as well)? 😉

  4. Several of the flag designs (eg. the last 3) look a bit busy… I always thought that a good flag should be easily recognizable from a distance, and should be easy enough for a 5 year old to duplicate to a reasonable degree of accuracy with some crayons.

  5. I’m still in complete shock that they outlawed THEIR OWN FLAG! Could you imagine if that happened in nearly any other country in the world? They’d burn down every government building they could find!!! And not only did they outlaw their own flag, but they encouraged flying the flag of a country that is threatening Taiwan with thousands of missiles!

    Truly unbelievable. Makes you wonder how hard the government is trying to get Taiwan into organizations like the WHO, WHA and UN.

  6. Haitien, they sound like some good design criteria, although I think flags like the French or Italian ones are too simple.

    Neil, yes it is beyond belief. I don’t know of anything similar happening anywhere else in the world.

    James, I didn’t include the green and white flag used by many pro-Taiwan groups in my post because as I said the flag needs to be a symbol of unity even if that means not using the most popular design.

  7. David, a flag for Taiwan must not only take into account the past but also transcend well into the future. We are currently in our 97th year, which is really only a short period against the backdrop of history. But to make a flag that is universal, one has to take for granted that The Republic of China will live well into its tenth millennium of existence (which entails that Taiwan pursue its own space agenda and reach out into the vastness of the universe).

    From space, and from any point of view for that matter, Taiwan looks like a seed, don’t you think? I see it not as a leaf, but as a seed (lots of things have been going on here that can serve as inspiration for generations to come). Though, whether that seed will grow into a tree or not remains to be seen.

    The flag I envision has a representation of a lush green tree in it. The backdrop would be part blue and red, with yellow stars (outlying islands) overhead that form into a half-circle.

  8. i think it is a shame that the color green is now symbolic of a party and not what it was intended to be–the democracy, prosperity, beautiful environment that is taiwan. read flag websites on what a good flag is–no maps! simple designs are best!

  9. Any comments that any flag is toooo political is ridiculous–national flags are political! just dont make them representative of a political party. all of proposed taiwan flags reflect the land and people! not a party! keep arguing and disagreeing–taiwan will go nowhere as its has for the past 400 years! there is nothing srong with green, red, or blue–it is how you use it. our red is not for communism. it is for the blood spilt by people before us to keep taiwan free! red is bold!

  10. also, stop using that ridiculous “year of the republic” calender system counting from 1911! that is another one of roc things brought to taiwan. Taiwan in 1911 was a colony of japan and did not take part in any ROC founding or was thought to be a part or the ROC by Sun Yat Sen at the time. Who cares if it is the 97th or 98th year. This counting system from 1911 is a chinese nationalist thing–not a Taiwanese thing! It is 2009-that’s it–based on the death of Christ!

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