Change in the air

May 16, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

On this day 50 years ago, China issued a top directive calling on its people to rid society of “members of the bourgeoisie threatening to seize political power from the proletariat” – marking the start of a decade-long violent class struggle.

For 10 tumultuous years from 1966, the country underwent massive sociopolitical upheaval that saw countless politicians and intellectuals driven to their deaths, civilians killed in armed conflicts, and cultural relics and artefacts destroyed. The official death toll numbered more than 1.7 million.

We detail the birth of the movement – Mao Zedong’s brainchild – and how the hardline political campaign shook the nation even as its effects rippled across the globe. Former Red Guards and rebels share their personal accounts of the difficult decade that the country and its people are still struggling to come to terms with half a century on.

The Cultural Revolution ended only after Mao Zedong’s death and the Gang of Four’s arrest in 1976.

By Jun Mai
Oliver Chou

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 May, 2016, 9:00am

UPDATED : Sunday, 15 May, 2016, 9:17am

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Robert’s View

The Cultural Revolution was one of the darkest periods in the 3,500+ years of the history of China. It is a stark reminder for China to set the example for accepting and learning from history no matter how dark it was, respecting the rule of law, human rights and freedom, and letting go of excessive controlling its Chinese and Ethnic people, thinking, faith, and .

The Chinese government has done well with overcoming corruption and graft under President Xi Jinping. It should now focus on education, sustainable growth, polution, global warming, compliance, press and internet freedom, being a freer society, and of course being cultured, responsible tourists.