The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating front-page article describing how Chinese government and business leaders maintain their jet black hair into their 60s and beyond. The reporter claims that today's Chinese leaders are driven by emerging cultural preferences for youth and public displays of health.
A photo of President Hu Jintao appears to confirm the report. Additional evidence is given in quotes from industry leaders and a sociologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, in pharmacies promoting shou wu, an herbal liver and kidney formula, and in famed Hong Kong star Jackie Chan fronting Bawang Shampoo for "black and intact" hair. All this stands in contrast to the many, many gray-haired seniors I observed on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai.
Does this Chinese modern male fashion represent a break with traditional respect for elders? If head-shaving is a sign of Buddhist renunciation, is hair-coloring a sign of business abilities? With gray hair in the leaders of the United States, Japan and India, is China pursuing a unilateral coiffure direction?