The flag of Hong Kong, officially called the Regional Flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, was adopted on April 4, 1990 at the Third Session of the Seventh National People’s Congress. Although adopted at this landmark session, the flag was not officially raised until seven years later, on July 1, 1997, during the handover ceremony, signifying Hong Kong’s sovereignty transfer from Great Britain to the People’s Republic of China.
The flag of Hong Kong features a red rectangle with a five-petal white flower in the center. Each of the five petals has a red star in the middle. The red background represents Hong Kong’s allegiance to the People’s Republic of China, which has a red flag. Red is also a festive color for Chinese people, used at celebrations in addition to patriotic events. The flower depicted on the flag is the Bauhinia blakeana, a species that originated in Hong Kong in the late nineteenth century. The flower grows on an evergreen tree but looks similar to an orchid. It contains five thick, purple-red flowers and has a fragrant smell. The five white stars on the inside of the flower petals also signify Hong Kong’s allegiance to the People’s Republic of China, as the flag of the People’s Republic also contains five stars.
The strategic combination of the flower—symbolizing Hong Kong—and the red background and white stars—symbolizing the People’s Republic of China—illustrates China’s “one country two systems” idea. This idea, posing that China would be socialist, but other large cities, including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, could have capitalistic systems was introduced by Deng Xiaoping, a leader of the People’s Republic of China during the 1980s. According to this principle, Hong Kong can retain its capitalistic systems for fifty years after its reunification with China. This was negotiated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984 and took effect in 1997. The People’s Republic of China has not made clear what will happen to Hong Kong when the agreement expires in 2047.