We were reminded by our friends at VIBE that today marks the birthday of the flag of Hong Kong, adopted 4 April 1990 by the Seventh National People’s Congress in Beijing. More than just a city flag, of course, it is officially the “regional flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China” (written traditionally 中華人民共和國香港特別行政區區旗 in Hong Kong, and in simplified characters 中华人民共和国香港特别行政区区旗 on the mainland).
Wikipedia has an excellent article on the flag, including the following discussion and gallery of the design competition that preceded it.
Before Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty, between 20 May 1987 and 31 March 1988, a contest was held amongst Hong Kong residents to help choose a flag for post-colonial Hong Kong, with 7,147 design submissions, in which 4,489 submissions were about flag designs. Architect Tao Ho was chosen as one of the panel judges to pick Hong Kong’s new flag. He recalled that some of the designs had been rather funny and with political twists: “One had a hammer and sickle on one side and a dollar sign on the other.” Some designs were rejected because they contained copyrighted materials, for example, the emblem of Urban Council, Hong Kong Arts Festival and Hong Kong Tourism Board. Six designs were chosen as finalists by the judges, but were all later rejected by the PRC. Ho and two others were then asked by the PRC to submit new proposals.
Looking for inspiration, Ho wandered into a garden and picked up a Bauhinia blakeana flower. He observed the symmetry of the five petals, and how their winding pattern conveyed to him a dynamic feeling. This led him to incorporate the flower into the flag to represent Hong Kong.
All of these proposed flag images were created by Wikimedia editor Joins2003.