Vessels sailing under the Hong Kong Country Flag are required to have on board this flag as part of flag state requirements that derive from maritime regulations in the International Code of Signals and the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. These codes are published by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as an ongoing effort to reinforce maritime safety procedures and communications to the international maritime community. Fleet management companies and ship owners are responsible to ensure that each vessel in their respective fleets have the appropriate flag signage onboard to be in compliance. This flag is used to identify the flag state a vessel is sailing under and to communicate with other vessels under the provisions of the International Code of Signals.
The Hong Kong Country Flag appears as a deep red background. Centered on the flag is a depiction of a white Bauhini Blakeana flower with five distinct petals. The plant from which the flower is derived is known as a Hong Kong Orchid Tree in the English language. The flower petals show thin red stripes radiating from the solid red center in a curve and nestled in the vertical center of each petal. The lines nearly reach to the center of each petal horizontally as viewed from the center, but are slightly offset from a red colored, five pointed star in each case. The Flag was officially adopted in 1990, but was not flown until 1997 when Hong Kong was returned to the People's Republic Of China following a 100 year lease to the United Kingdom. The Hong Kong Country Flag is proportioned with a ratio of 2:3, height to length, respectively. The symbolism of the native flower depicted on the flag relates to the dichotomy between China and Hong Kong, but is also meant to represent harmony.