China Stresses That the Cultural Revolution Was a Total Mistake- Growing Popular Dissatisfaction May Be Behind It

On May 17th the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), People’s Daily, issued a commentary that the Cultural Revolution was a total mistake.

May 16th of this year marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution, so the party is considered to have reconfirmed its official position on the political upheaval.

In the party resolution of 1981, the CCP issued a verdict that the Cultural Revolution had been an internal turmoil that had brought grave disaster to the party, country and people of every ethnicity. The recent commentary reaffirmed this assertion. The commentary said, “History has proven that the Cultural Revolution was a complete mistake in theory and practice.” It also stated that the country would never allow a mistake like the Cultural Revolution to happen again.

Until today, however, China had imposed a tough news censorship regarding the Cultural Revolution so it is extremely unprecedented that the CCP publicly mentioned it. Why is the Chinese government issuing such a commentary now?


The party denies the Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, but worshipped Mao himself

What is the Cultural Revolution in the first place?

It is a decade-long political and social reform movement that Mao Zedong, a founding father of the People’s Republic of China, started in 1966. However, it was a reform movement in name only. Mao Zedong started an agro-industrial reform called the Great Leap Forward after the founding of the country, but the movement was a failure, which forced him to step down. Mao wanted to rise to power again and engaged in a huge power struggle.

Capitalists became the object of fierce attack and a great many people were purged. Some people estimate that the persecution of victims of the Cultural Revolution reached the tens of millions.

The 1981 party resolution was adopted in the National Congress of CCP, and is officially called “Resolution on certain questions in the history of our party since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.” The resolution negated the Cultural Revolution but stated that Mao’s achievements overweighed the mistakes of the bloody political upheaval. While the CCP completely denies the Cultural Revolution led by Mao, it still worships Mao himself.


Public dissatisfaction is mounting

Although the current commentary strongly denies the Cultural Revolution, it also says that the denial of the revolution does not mean the denial of the CCP, urging the people to unite around President Xi Jinping.

President Xi delivered a speech in which he espoused the “working class” and “populism,” obsolete words reminiscent of Mao’s days. He is also pursuing Mao’s policies such as a crackdown on ethnic minorities and control of speech.

Amid the situation, the Chinese government issued the commentary.

Judging from it, Chinese people may have a stronger antipathy against President Xi than outsiders expect. Although the Cultural Revolution is a conversational taboo, there are many Chinese people who experienced the horror of the bloody tumult. They fear is that Xi, who inherits Mao’s policies, may re-enact something akin to the Cultural Revolution. The CCP may have issued the commentary to dispel the public concern.

The CCP continues to rule the country by force, but the growing public criticism and discontent will eventually collapse the autocratic regime.. The political system that is full of contradictions and pays no heed to the welfare of its people will never last forever.

China Stresses That the Cultural Revolution Was a Total Mistake- Growing Popular Dissatisfaction May Be Behind It
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