Five Races Under One Union

Five Races Under One Union was one of the major principles upon which the Republic of China was founded in 1911 at the time of the Xinhai Revolution.[1][2][3][4]

Republic of China
NameFive-coloured flag (五色旗)
UseCivil and state flag
Adopted10 January 1912
DesignFive horizontal bands of red, yellow, blue, white and black.

Five Races Under One Union
The center flag is the Five-Colored Flag of the Republic of China. Underneath the three flags is the message: Long live the union (共和萬歲)
Traditional Chinese五族共和
Literal meaningfive races (ethnic groups) living together in mutual harmony (the res publica)


This principle emphasized harmony between what were considered the five major ethnic groups in China, as represented by the colored stripes of the Five-Colored Flag of the Republic: the Han (red); the Manchus (yellow); the Mongols (blue); the "Hui" (white); and the Tibetans (black).[5]

The term 回, huí, primarily referred in this context to the Muslim Turkic peoples in Western China, since the term "Muslim Territory" (回疆; "Huijiang") was an older name for Xinjiang during the Qing dynasty.[6] The meaning of the term "Hui people" gradually shifted to its current sense—a group distinguished from Han Chinese by little more than their Muslim faith and distant foreign ancestry—around 1911–49 in the Republic of China.


Historical records from the Sui dynasty show a system of military banners using the five colors to represent the Five Elements: red for fire, blue for wood, yellow for earth, white for metal, and black for water. The Tang dynasty inherited this system, and has arranged the colors in a united flag according to the above order of the elements, for military use.[7] In the Liao and Song periods, the Khitan people used the same flag design, as depicted in Chinese painting. During the reign of the Mongol Yuan dynasty the five colors started to symbolize ethnicities (五色四夷) in a multiethnic state.[8] In later historical periods, this "flag of the five united elements" was altered and readapted for military and official uses. A Qing dynasty painting depicting the Banners victory over the Muslim Du Wenxiu rebellion in Yunnan, includes a Qing military flag with the five elements arranged in the order of yellow, white, black, green and red.[9]

After the Wuchang uprising, the Qing dynasty regime was replaced by the Republic of China. Prior to the adoption of the five colors flag by the Republic, a number of different flags were promoted by revolutionaries. For example, the military units of Wuchang wanted a 9-star flag featuring a Taijitu symbol,[5] while Sun Yat-sen preferred the Blue Sky and White Sun flag to honor Lu Haodong.[5]

Despite the uprisings targeting a Manchu-dominated regime, Sun Yat-sen, Song Jiaoren and Huang Xing unanimously advocated racial integration, which was symbolized by the five-color flag.[10] They promoted a view of the non-Han ethinicities as also being Chinese, despite them being a relatively small percentage of the population.[11]

The "five ethnic groups under one union" flag was no longer used after the Northern Expedition ended in 1928.

A variation of this flag was adopted by Yuan Shikai's empire and the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (see Flag of Manchukuo). In Manchukuo, a similar slogan (五族協和) was used, but the five races it represented were Japanese (red), Han Chinese (blue), Mongols (white), Koreans (black) and Manchus (yellow).

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the flag was used by several Japanese puppet governments, including the Provisional Government of the Republic of China in the northern part of the country and the Reformed Government of the Republic of China in central China.


Inner Manchuria

Inner Mongolia (four races)

See also


  1. Murray A. Rubinstein (1994). Murray A. Rubinstein (ed.). The Other Taiwan: 1945 to the present (illustrated ed.). M.E. Sharpe. p. 416. ISBN 1-56324-193-5. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  2. James A. Millward (2007). Eurasian crossroads: a history of Xinjiang (illustrated ed.). Columbia University Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-231-13924-1. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  3. Paul Hibbert Clyde, Burton F. Beers (1971). The Far East: a history of the Western impact and the Eastern response (1830–1970) (5, illustrated ed.). Prentice-Hall. p. 409. Retrieved 28 June 2010.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. Making of America Project (1949). Harper's magazine, Volume 198. Harper's Magazine Co. p. 104. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  5. Fitzgerald, John. [1998] (1998). Awakening China: Politics, Culture, and Class in the Nationalist Revolution. Stanford University Press publishing. ISBN 0-8047-3337-6, ISBN 978-0-8047-3337-3. pg 180.
  6. Suisheng Zhao (2004). A nation-state by construction: dynamics of modern Chinese nationalism (illustrated ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 171. ISBN 0-8047-5001-7. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  7. "唐代军旗_乌有先生_新浪博客". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  8. "为什么"五族共和"中没有壮族、苗族、彝族等南方少数民族? – 知乎". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  9. 赫晓夫. "中华民国国旗——五色旗,是孙中山所谓的清朝"官旗"吗?". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  10. Hsiao-ting Lin. [2010] (2010). Modern China's ethnic frontiers: a journey to the west. Taylor & Francis publishing. ISBN 0-415-58264-4, ISBN 978-0-415-58264-3. pg 7.
  11. Chow, Peter C. Y. [2008] (2008). The "one China" dilemma. Macmillan publishing. ISBN 1-4039-8394-1, ISBN 978-1-4039-8394-7. pg 31.
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