Amid the commotion of the US presidential election earlier this month, which the rest of the world watched with anxiety, despair and glee, people barely noticed a historic decision made by voters in Mississippi . In a referendum held concurrently with the presidential and congressional elections, the people of this Deep South state voted to change its flag. The “New Magnolia” or “In God We Trust” flag replaced the old one, in use since 1894, which featured the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of white supremacist movements in America. Almost all peoples and nations have used flags as representations of and rallying points for the “in-group”. For most of China’s history, flags were used on battlefields and in rituals. It was only in the 19th century, when China suddenly woke up to the modern world, that the country had its first national flag. Embarrassed that China was not represented by a proper flag at international events, the Qing dynasty court in 1888 decreed the “Yellow Dragon Flag”, modified from an existing naval pennant, would be the national flag. Featuring a four-legged, five-clawed Chinese dragon chasing a red ball against a golden yellow background, it represented the Chinese nation even as it suggested that the country was the personal property of the emperor’s. After the monarchy was overthrown, in 1912, the Republican government proclaimed the “Five-coloured Flag” as the official flag of the Republic of China on January 10 that year. Used by revolutionaries since 1911, the flag had five equal horizontal bands of different colours. From the top, red represented the Han Chinese, yellow represented the Manchus, blue the Mongols, white the Hui, and black the Tibetans, symbolising the harmonious coexistence of the five major ethnic groups (and a few dozen others) that make up the Chinese nation. The nascent republic swiftly descended into chaos with multiple warlords carving out territories for themselves. In May 1921, Dr Sun Yat-sen, leader of the civilian government, declared the Five-coloured Flag void, replacing it with the “Blue Sky, White Sun, a Land Filled with Red” flag. As the armies of the self-styled legitimate government of the Republic of China advanced northwards from its base in Guangdong, the new flag became the de facto national flag of China. It remained so during the war against the Japanese invaders from 1937 to 1945. In 1946, it was formally enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of China as the official national flag. Today, it still flutters proudly in Taiwan. The present “Five-star Red Flag” of the People’s Republic of China is based on a design submitted by an ordinary citizen in a contest in July 1949, as part of the preparations made by the Communist Party of China to establish a new republic. There is some debate as to whether the biggest star symbolises the party or the people, but it is agreed that the four stars represent the four social classes: workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie. Mainland law states that it is the symbol of the People’s Republic of China and all citizens should “respect, love and cherish the national flag”. Not counting the flags of multiple secessionist and short-lived regimes within the country, China has had four national flags in 130 years. While the rate of change is unusual, change itself is not. People do fall out of love with their flags and other symbols of self-identity for different reasons. The good people in the Magnolia State did just that in November 2020 and got themselves a new one.