Beijing bans police bling but enforces gold-medal dress code

By Clifford Coonan

China's cops are polishing their belt buckles, making sure their shirts pass muster and leaving their bling at home. The fashion police are on patrol and China's finest are under scrutiny.

The drive to clean up China's image ahead of next year's Olympics means the country's police have new orders - no weirdly dyed hair, no beards, no sideburns. And leave the scarves and the jewellery for when you're off duty, officers have been warned.

In the interest of ensuring "a good image for the people's police", the Ministry of Public Security has issued orders about what beat policemen can and cannot wear.

"When police are in uniform on duty, they are not allowed to wear scarves or jewellery, paint their nails, or have colourfully dyed hair," the Beijing News reported, citing the new fashion guidelines for China's finest aimed at ensuring neatness.

Anyone dying their hair will have to re-dye it back to the original colour.

Male police officers cannot have long or curly hair, sideburns, shave their hair bald or have beards. And female police officers cannot have hair longer than shoulder length or wear nail varnish.

"Unless there is a specific job need or illness of the eye, police cannot wear coloured glasses," the new rules specify.

There are also guidelines on behaviour. The police are banned from smoking in public and entering places of entertainment such as bars while in uniform unless for work.

Breaching the new rules, which take effect this month, could cost offending officers their job. "Minor offenders will be lectured and asked to mend their ways. Those who repeatedly break the rules or whose behaviour has a detrimental impact could be sacked," the guidelines say.

China's police officers are generally well turned out, and a lot of the new rules seem redundant given the general level of smartness of the country's law enforcers.

But they are part of a broader campaign to make sure that public figures do not breach dress codes.

In April, Beijing prohibited female taxi drivers from dying their hair bright red or yellow and from wearing chunky earrings, hoping to improve the city's image ahead of next year's Olympics.

Last month, China's armed police were issued with new uniforms, including regular issue clothing, combat suits, and specialised uniforms for officers performing missions in bad weather and difficult living conditions.

- INDEPENDENT

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