Beijing Cabbies Not Allowed to Dye Hair Red

Yesterday I posted about tickets going on sale for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Understandably, China wants to make a good impression on the hordes of international travelers who will descend upon their country. In an effort to control that impression, the government has made a 12-item self-improvement list for cabdrivers.

So, if you travel to Beijing for the games, you can be sure your cabdrivers won’t smoke, spit or overcharge. Women won’t wear big earrings or have red hair, and men’s hair will be kept short. They’ll also always use their meter, or they’ll run the risk of losing their license.

On the one hand, I feel sorry for cabbies who are having their appearance micro-managed by the Chinese government, but on the other, taking a taxi in a country you’re not familiar with — especially when your language isn’t commonly spoken — can be daunting. Travelers who are confident they can make their way around the city — without being taken for the proverbial ride — are far more likely to enjoy their stay.

That being said, what does the government have against red hair?