The Chinese Official State Visit

DrillMasterColor Guard/Color Team 6 Comments

I received numerous questions about the leader of communist China visiting the US and having Presidential Honor Guard members holding the Chinese flag and other honors rendered. Let’s get into the information about arrival ceremonies.

DoDI5410.19 Vol 4, Community Outreach Activities: Ceremonial, Musical, and Aerial Event Support; AR 600-60, Army Protocol; and AR 840-10, the Army’s flag manual, apply to arrival and other ceremonies where a foreign national flag might be displayed or carried.

Note: All three of the photos in this article are similar to the main photo at the top. A color guard of three make up a team that holds the flag of the visiting foreign dignitary. That dignitary can be a civilian in the government or a member of the military. The photo at the top shows a Soldier of the 3rd Infantry (The Old Guard) of Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall, holding the Chinese flag while on his right is another Soldier holding the US. Both are in three-man color guards.

US Colors Guard Carrying Canadian Colors for Official Visit

Legal to Hold a Foreign Flag?

Our members of the military hold foreign national flags for every visit of a foreign national government official who rates honors (DoDI 5410.19 Vol. 4). The visits can be grandiose (full honors, joint or single-service) and out on the White House lawn or relatively small and held at the river entrance of the Pentagon or even inside Marine Barracks Washington.

US Colors Guard Carrying Australian Colors for Official Visit

Honors Appropriate?

We are technically not at war with the visiting foreign leader or POTUS would not be receiving him. That the requires a salute/honors rendered for the appropriate times.

FYI, the only communist country the USA is at war with is North Korea since the Korean War ended with a cease fire and is still officially active. Therefore, they don’t warrant an official state visit and the North Korean Flag would not be present.

US Colors Guard Carrying Italian Colors for Official Visit

Written with DeVaughn Simper, resident Vexillologist for Colonial Flag

Comments 6

  1. Re: holding Chinese flag — based on DoDI 5410.19-V4, would this fall under 4.2 “Special Circumstances” re: “U.S. military bands are authorized to perform foreign national anthems at official civil ceremonies within CONUS only when one or more senior government representatives of those foreign nations are actively participating in the ceremony and the representative holds a rank that entitles them to receive official U.S. Government honors. Playing foreign national anthems ***and carrying foreign nation flags by U.S. military personnel are ceremonial and protocol honors between and among governments and rendered only on select occasions.***”

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  2. the very beginning of DoDI 5410.19-V4, 1-1, sec. c, 4.
    Still odd to see it though. China does not share our values. One would think in order to qualify to to be rendered “honors” that the nation would be at least honorable to some degree, they are not. For me, this falls within the realm of ethics and morality. For that, I wouldn’t hold that flag.

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  3. The only thing I see in DoDI 5410.19-V4, where holding a foreign nation’s flag by U.S. military personnel is authorized is when the ceremony is conducted in that nation, not the U.S.
    I also couldn’t find anything referring to whether or not a determination being made to hold another nation’s flag was if we were at war with them.

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      The information for holding a foreign flag on US soil is right along with holding it on foreign soil. A government official must attend and take part in the ceremony and rate honors.

      It doesn’t go into war/no war. That’s not the purpose of the document.

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