Red Flag was started during the Great Leap Forward era in 1958. The journal was the successor to another journal, Study (Xuexi). Its name was given by Mao Tse-tung. Chen Boda was the editor of the journal, which served as a crucial media outlet during the Cultural Revolution. In 1966 Pol Pot formed a similar magazine with the same name in Cambodia in Khmer language, Tung Krahom, modelled on Red Flag.
During the 1960s Red Flag temporarily ended publication, but was restarted in 1968. The frequency of the journal was monthly between its start in 1958 and 1979. It was published bi-monthly from 1980 to 1988. It covered theoretical arguments supported by the party. In May 1988 Chinese officials announced that the journal would be closed. Finally, it ceased publication in June 1988, and was succeeded by Qiushi, another magazine.