Yellow Dragon Flag

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The Qing government's first national flag with the dragon symbolizing the emperor

On October 17, 1862, the Qing government decided to use the Yellow Dragon Flag (黄龙旗) as the national flag.

The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) didn't have a national flag before 1862. However, many other countries' ships came to China with national flags after the Opium War (1839-42). After securing the government's approval, the Qing government's Office of Foreign Affairs was permitted to use the triangular Yellow Dragon Flag in every fleet in the Chinese navy. On October 22, 1862 the office informed Britain, France, Russia and the U.S. of this development and thus marked the birth of the Qing's national flag. On May 26, 1889, the government decided to use the rectangular Yellow Dragon Flag after a proposal by diplomat Zhang Mengheng. The color yellow symbolized the Manchu rulers of the Qing, while the dragon signified the emperor. The flag was used until the end of the Qing Dynasty.