ROC Yearbook

National Symbols


National Designation

The founding father of the ROC, Sun Yat-sen 孫逸仙, first proposed the name “Republic of China” 中華民國 at the first official meeting of the Chinese Revolutionary Alliance 中國同盟會 in Tokyo in 1905. Sun said, “Not until that day in autumn 1905 when outstanding individuals of the entire country gathered to found the Chinese Revolutionary Alliance in Tokyo did I come to believe the great revolutionary task could indeed be achieved. Only at this point did I dare to propose the national designation of ‘Republic of China’ and announce it to the members of our party, so that each could return to their respective province and proclaim the message of the revolution and disseminate the ideas behind the founding of the Republic of China.”

The name became official on January 1, 1912, when the Committee of Provincial Governors’ Representatives 各省都督府代表聯合會 from across China declared the establishment of the Republic and swore in Sun as its president.


ROC Year Designations

In official and most ordinary usages, years in the ROC are calculated from the year of the Republic’s founding, 1912. Thus, 1912 was referred to as “the first year of the Republic of China,” and 2016 is “the 105th year of the Republic of China,” and so on. This is a continuation of the millennia-old system in China of beginning new year designations with the start of a new era, which once coincided with the ascension of a new emperor.


National Flag

The “white sun in a blue sky” portion of the ROC’s national flag was originally designed by Lu Hao-tung 陸皓東, a martyr of the Chinese revolution. Lu presented his design in a meeting of the Revive China Society 興中會 in Hong Kong on March 16, 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.


National flag


Before the Wuchang Uprising 武昌起義 in 1911 (also known as the 1911 Xinhai Revolution 辛亥革命), the revolutionary armies in different provinces had different flags: the one used in the Wuhan 武漢 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 廣東, Guangxi 廣西, Yunnan 雲南 and Guizhou 貴州 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 yellow 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 in December 1928.


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, symbolizing unceasing progress. At one level, the three colors of blue, white and crimson stand for the Three Principles of the People 三民主義: 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 Flower

The plum blossom, Prunus mume, was officially designated by the ROC Executive Yuan 行政院 to be the national flower on July 21, 1964. The plum blossom, which produces shades of pink and white and gives off a delicate fragrance, has great symbolic value in Chinese culture because of its resilience during the harsh winter. The triple grouping of stamens (one long and two short) represents Sun Yat-sen’s Three Principles of the People, while the five petals symbolize the five branches of the ROC government.



National Anthem

The words of the ROC national anthem were first delivered as an exhortation by Sun Yat-sen at the opening ceremony of the Whampoa Military Academy 黃埔軍校 on June 16, 1924. This exhortation was designated as the Kuomintang’s (KMT) 中國國民黨 party song in 1928, after which the KMT publicly solicited contributions for a tune to fit the words. A melody by Cheng Mao-yun 程懋筠 was selected out of those submitted by 139 contenders. (See page 7 for both lyrics and melody.)


In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Ministry of Education (MOE) held two separate competitions for the lyrics for a national anthem, using the KMT party song in the meantime as a temporary national anthem. None of the entries reviewed by the MOE were deemed appropriate, so Dr. Sun’s composition was finally adopted as the official anthem of the Republic of China in 1937.


The anthem first declares the Three Principles of the People to be the foundation of the nation and a guide to a world commonwealth of peace and harmony, and then calls upon the people to be brave, earnest and faithful in striving to fulfill that goal.