In the latest document of the 19th National Congress of CPC, 高举。。。旗帜 was translated as “hold high the banner of...", and the translated work was said to have been revised and finalized by experts who are native speakers of English.

But a banner is something one put on words to show their emotion and request, which is not the 旗帜 usually used by Chinese and if you watch mangas illustrating Romance of Three Kingdoms or other related warring topics in ancient China, you know that the family name of the head of the force in fight is marked on a flag (帅旗), which is not a banner at all.

  • Apparently, the meaning of 旗帜 used here is not the literal meaning.
    – fefe
    Oct 20, 2017 at 4:06
  • jukuu "hold high" seems to show that 高举。。。旗帜 has become a standard expression corresponding to the given English translation, e.g. 22. 高举和平、展、作的旗帜 28.高举人权旗帜
    – user6065
    Oct 20, 2017 at 5:46
  • Banner is 条幅 in Chinese or 通栏 if it is used in newspaper pages. Oct 20, 2017 at 11:49
  • It is a syntactical structure in reports about leaders from CCTV news (China Central TV Station), like 高举中国特色社会主义伟大旗帜, 高举邓小平理论的伟大旗帜. Nobody knows when and where it come from, maybe it's created by a leader.
    – xenophōn
    Nov 23, 2017 at 11:26
  • 我们要高举邓小平理论伟大旗帜, literally meaning: We must hold the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory, which means: We must uphold/advocate and support the (spirit of) Deng Xiaoping Theory.
    – xenophōn
    Nov 23, 2017 at 11:35

5 Answers 5


I think a little more context is necessary to answer this question.

The theme of the Congress is: Remain true to our original aspiration and keep our mission firmly in mind, hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics ... and work tirelessly to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

Ah. So it's not a literal flag we are talking about here, but rather a symbol of socialism.

If we take a look at definition 1.2 of the word "banner" given by OED, we will see that it means:

Used in reference to support for a belief or principle.
‘the government is flying the free trade banner’

Using this definition, the term banner definitely seems appropriate in this context.

"But isn't there already a flag for socialism? Why complicate things by calling it a banner?

As others have pointed out, the phrase “高举 ~ 旗帜” can't be taken literally here. Xi is not asking everyone to physically wave a red flag around, but rather to carry high and proud a representation of one's beliefs. If we pull out the prescriptivist bible OED again, we can see that the english word "flag" is less commonly used to represent an ideology, but rather a physical landmass or position marker.

This isn't to say that the word "flag" doesn't make sense in this context. Sure, most people would understand the metaphor anyway. However, since the word "banner" has stronger connections to "symbol for one's beliefs/ideologies" than the word "flag", I believe that the word choice they have made is more suitable in a pragmatic, if not literal sense.

  • 能不把连续句号这种写法带到英文网站吗
    – xenophōn
    Apr 23, 2018 at 2:10
  • @賈可Jacky 这个有规矩吗?该怎样写呢
    – as4s4hetic
    Apr 23, 2018 at 11:52
  • 这倒不是规矩的问题。首先连续的句号代替引号就不规范。毕竟是我们网民自创的,看起来也比较丑。另外,你得考虑老外有些人看不到任何中文字符,包括句号字符。正规的网站,良好的书写标准不是更好吗?建议用三个点或者波浪线代替。
    – xenophōn
    Apr 24, 2018 at 9:15
  • @賈可Jacky 行,改过来了
    – as4s4hetic
    Apr 24, 2018 at 20:59

According to google, 高举旗帜 means 'Raise the flag'. Image of top search


It is totally a chinese features metaphor. 「旗帜」in here is neither banner or flag, but means "standpoint".


"旗帜" should be interpreted as "battle flags", rather than "banners" that are used today (e.g. for celebrations or for marking special occasions). Both in China (as late as in the early 20th century) and in the West (from the Romans till WWI (?)), armies (& regiments) carried flags to distinguish themselves from their enemies--in ancient times, drummers would be right next to (or right behind) the flags.

"旗" and "帜" aren't exactly the same, but they overlap in meaning--enough that together they mean "flag".

"高举旗帜" is a metaphor that means "to carry on (whatever the flags (旗帜) represent".


"高举 ~ 旗帜" = "raise the flag or banner of ~ high", And we all can agree on it is a metaphor for ' to display one's stand'

The question seems to be about why 旗帜 is translated as banner but not flag.

The answer is simple -- '旗帜' is a general term for 'flag and banner'. It is not wrong to translate it as 'flag' or 'banner' as long as it refers to 'a decent sized clothes with a handle for stationary or hand held display '

Similar examples I had used many times:

'刀劍' is a general term for 'weapon' (knife and sword are the representatives of all weapon)

'牛羊' is a general term for 'farm cattle' (cow and goat are the representatives of all cattle)

'旗' and '帜' in ancient time might had separate distinct definitions, but they preformed similar functions notheless.

The term '旗帜' represents all flag and banner that are for display. (different from functional flags like the one judo match judges or airport ground crew would hold)

Again, 'flag' or 'banner' are both correct translation of '旗帜'

  • 能不把连续句号这种写法带到英文网站吗
    – xenophōn
    Apr 23, 2018 at 2:10
  • I just copy and paste from the OP post. It is not my style anyway
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 23, 2018 at 3:09

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