Communist Party of China—Always Bet on Black?

Most are well familiar with the bold red that is often synonymous with China’s Communist Party. But what about black? While not so much a symbol, it is also of great importance—black hair in particular—as a standard that holds high priority with members of the party (whose average age is 65, by the way).

Consider the thousands of suit dummies all sporting uniformly black hair—something that is impossible to miss especially if viewing footage or photos of annual meetings of the Communist Party of China. Beyond the superficial, the matching suits and heads of hair are also a simple yet powerful manifestation of some of the basic values of the Communist Party—unity, discipline and the strength of the whole (not the individual). If the majority of party members dye their hair to keep it shiny black then by gum, the rest had better follow suit. And they sure do, with the exception of a few retired officials.

Communist Party of China annual meeting

“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,” comments Jeremy Goldkorn, founder and editor of, a research firm covering Chinese media.

In BBC’s commentary on one of China’s annual parliament sessions, they point out just how well the party members personify the institution:

“As they stood to listen to the country’s national anthem, the politicians stood in perfect rows, spaced a few feet apart. Each person had a white teacup and a copy of the premier’s upcoming speech on the desk directly in front on them. From a distance, it was nearly impossible to distinguish one leader from another.”

However, some point out that president Xi Jinping may have been sporting just a few grey hairs amid the black, at least based on certain photos from his recent visit to the United States.

Perhaps Xi is thinking twice about the vain, time consuming practice of dying one’s hair several times a month? Or maybe he just didn’t notice. Either way, dye jobs at the hair salon aren’t cheap and they do end up costing someone down the line, assuming party members aren’t paying for these out of pocket. Maybe this should be one of the items on Xi’s list of targets included in the cleanup of wasteful spending and excess among government officials of any rank. Makes perfect sense if the crackdown campaign has already gone after spending on everything from luxury cars and gifts to mooncakes.