China’s Cultural Revolution: 50th anniversary unmarked by state media
16 May 2016
- From the section China
The 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution, which plunged China into a decade of chaos, has been met with silence in state media.
On 16 May 1966 Communist leader Mao Zedong began a campaign to eliminate his rivals. At the same time he called on Chinese youth to “purge” society.
What followed was years of tumult, bloodshed and class warfare that ended only with Mao’s death in 1976.
But how to handle the era’s contentious legacy remains a challenge to China.
On Monday, China’s main state media outlets made virtually no mention of the anniversary, focusing on coverage of the South China Sea and other domestic issues. No official events were planned by the authorities to mark the 50-year milestone.
One blogger “Media Lao Wang” posted a picture on micro-blogging site Weibo that showed the front pages of five major Chinese newspapers on Monday and none of them mentioned the Cultural Revolution.
Another Weibo user called @Sunshine raningwind said: “Cultural Revolution is the history of China’s appalling disaster, let civilization back thousands of years , it is necessary to reflect on the Cultural Revolution, vestiges need to be clean and wash away at least a few decades
Only Hong Kong media, which enjoy greater freedoms than their counterparts on their mainland, gave coverage to the anniversary.
It is seen by many as the most chaotic period of recent Chinese history, but analysts say there are some on the mainland who still lionise the leftist ideals of the age.
What was the Cultural Revolution?
The Cultural Revolution was a campaign launched by Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1966 to purge the Communist Party of his rivals. It ended up destroying much of China’s social fabric.
What happened during it?
Chairman Mao gave licence to Chinese youth to destroy the so-called four “olds” or perceived enemies of Chinese culture: customs, habits, culture and thinking. Over the ensuing decade a chaotic kind of youth “tyranny” prevailed which saw schools and temples destroyed. Children turned on their parents and students turned on their teachers, intellectuals were exiled. Thousands were beaten to death or driven to suicide.
How long did it last?
It officially ended only with Mao’s death in 1976. Millions were denounced and punished during this time, but there are varying estimates as to how many people actually died.
Source: BBC World