No, there was no essay. And they didn't know where I was coming from, otherwise I would have been ineligible, being a big-nose.
Nations, period, are a new concept for the Chinese, I think. (They and their flags both go back to the late 19th century.) The Ching Dynasty flag was a personal flag which got coopted (and turned from triangular to rectangular, since somebody figured out that was the done thing.)
I like the blue dragon / yellow field design too. It's distinctive (you don't have to squint to make sure it's not the flag of some other country, like you do with the PRC and ROC), and it actually has a Chinese (okay, pan-East Asian) symbol on it.
By "vexillological tradition" I don't just mean using earlier flag elements, but also things like: non-arbitrary design, avoiding color-on-color and metal-on-metal, avoiding maps and letters, making it something that can be silk-screened or drawn without too much trouble... One can still be bold, though. For instance Frederick Brownell's Y-Front Underpants Flag for South Africa, which they seem to like, or Whitney Smith's Guyana flag (the one with the Star Trek insignia on it!). .
If the Taiwanese held a contest like that to decide Canada's flag, I think the Canadians would end up flying something with the outline of the map of Canada, and the word "Canada" across it.