“The ‘Cultural Revolution’ was an event started wrongly by the leader… and brought severe catastrophe to the Party, country, and ethnic peoples, creating comprehensive and severe damage,” an opinion column in the state media outlet People’s Daily said on Tuesday. The column came a day after the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

The tumultuous period, which lasted from 1966 to 1976, was spearheaded by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong. It aimed to purge all forms of traditional culture and foreign influence from China. The revolution saw the denunciation of teachers, parents, and anyone who was deemed to be of the elite and did not follow communist ideals. Hundreds of thousands died during the decade.

Cultural Revolution.
Cultural Revolution.

“Our party takes a serious attitude regarding our mistakes, including our leaders’, as well as wrongful historical accounts. First is admitting, second is correctly analysing and third is being determined to make a correction – letting mistakes, as well as the success of the party, become invaluable and historical learning materials,” said the column by Ren Ping.

It also added that “we have to remember the historical lessons of the ‘Cultural Revolution,’ and be determined to support the party’s conclusion… [and] resist interference with problems surrounding the ‘Cultural Revolution’ from the ‘left’ and right.”

See also: HKFP Interview: More people should be able to discuss the Cultural Revolution, says HKUST expert Ding Xueliang

The column supported a Communist Party document released in 1981, after Mao’s death, which said that the revolution was a serious mistake which caused severe internal chaos and that must be learnt from in order to prevent bigger mistakes.

Other Chinese media outlets were generally silent on Monday during the anniversary.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.