fighting back the grey

27 Apr



Last November retired Premier Zhu Rongji turned up to a meeting with his natural hair colour shining through, grey. Although praised by many on weibo, this sparked debates over whether leaders of the Communist Party should be allowed to go grey or whether they should have to continue to dye their hair black.

A BBC news article looked at the recent annual Parliament session and commented on the similarities of all participants all wearing the same dark suits with the same jet black hair despite the ages ranging from 50s to late 60s.

Professor Tsang has claimed that this is far from coincidental in the Communist Party stating that “If every party leader sports the same outfit and hair colour, it’s easy to blend in and dodge blame for the failure of any particular policy” thus stating that politicians are too scared to die their hair in case they stand out too much which makes them politically vulnerable.

Jeremy Goldkorn has claimed that this emphasizes the stability of the Communist Party “They’ve tried to show that the party is not dependent on any single personality, it’s an institution. They’ve tried to devalue the individual in favour of the party.”

This clearly demonstrates the control that the Communist Party has over its officials and the extremes it will go to, to maintain stability. 



2 Responses to “fighting back the grey”

  1. aa29g11 April 29, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    Watching the Chinese communist party in session is much like a serious session of deja-vu from one politician to the next, all with the same hair and clothing. I agree with the point that gives away the image of individuality that has become custom in Western politics. Yet, does it mean that it cannot work within the established CCP?

    Many politicians within the Chinese government have seen their positions taken away due to lack of respect towards the party, much like the Nazi Germany during its ascendency in 1930’s and 1940’s. “The Communist Party is one of the most disciplined institutions ever devised by humankind. Not a lot at that level happens purely by accident,” said Steve Tsang, a professor at the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham in England, quoted in the BBC story. This therefore, gives the indication that the Chinese government wants to promote an image that is akin to their younger days in government. This is not so foolish as the promise of economic growth is rarely successfully established by men with grey hair and sporting different clothing.

    What seems to remain, is whether their plan to toe the party line is going to lead to long term stability in the Chinese government?

  2. pw9g10 May 1, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    The sceptical view suggests that dying your hair is an attempt to blend in and evade blame for something. However, for me it is an attempt to show solidarity and strength. As some of the comments in the BBC article show some view grey haired politicians as weak with one individual describing Zhu Rongji ‘like he’s about to die!’ Therefore, to some extent the dying of hair is done in order to promote an image of strength (or at least that is how some interpret it).

    This stretches further to the very similar suits they wear and how organised the politicians were when it came to singing the national anthem. It just highlights how they want to put across an image of unity and power. The way they present themselves is one less way they can be criticised with external forces being unable to pick holes in one of the most seemingly trivial aspects of politics. It may also be the case that it is easier to believe in the ideas of the party when they appear so organised.

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