50 Years After China's Cultural Revolution


In May 1966 Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong began a campaign which became known as the Cultural Revolution. Opposition leaders and intellectuals who were against Mao's leadership were removed from power and high positions. Many of them were executed. The Cultural Revolution continued until Mao's death in 1976.

50 years later Chinese authorities have made no official remarks about the  Cultural Revolution. There were no state ceremonies planned and the media did not even mention the historic event.

Mao called on China's youth generation  to get rid of all enemies of Chinese culture. As a result, children and young adults betrayed their parents and teachers. Officially, about 1.7 million people died during the Cultural Revolution, although historians say the real death toll was much higher.

Mao Zedong called on students to pursue party leaders who were not living up to Communist ideals. In the months and years that followed the announcement,  newly formed Red Guards attacked everyone who was considered to be suspiciousIn addition, young people started to worship and admire the Chinese leader in public so that a personality cult emerged around Mao.

As the revolution steadily grew out of control Mao had to send soldiers to cities and towns to restore law and order.



China's economy suffered greatly during the years of the Cultural Revolution. Industrial production dropped by 10% per year and farmers could not produce enough food for the country's increasing population.



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  • admire = think very highly of a person
  • although = while, but
  • announcement = something that someone says in public
  • attack = try to hurt someone using violence
  • authorities = people who are in government organisations and make decisions
  • betray = to give information about someone you like to your enemy
  • campaign = movement
  • ceremony = official event to honour something
  • considered = thought
  • death toll = people who have died during a certain event
  • drop = go down
  • emerge = come up
  • enemy = person who is against you and not your friend
  • execute = when the government officially kills a person
  • get rid of = remove something  or someone that is not wanted
  • greatly = a lot
  • ideal = very good way of behaving
  • in addition = also
  • increasing = growing
  • in public = openly , in front of many people
  • intellectual = very educated person who thinks carefully and criticises ideas
  • leadership = time when a person is a leader
  • live up to = to be as good as something
  • media = newspapers, radio and television
  • mention = speak about something in a few words
  • official = in public
  • opposition = people who do not agree with the leaders of a country
  • personality cult = when a leader is loved and admired in public
  • pursue = to try to get information about someone
  • Red Guard = member of a young group of people who supported and helped Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution
  • remark = comment
  • remove = bring down from, to make someone give up their position
  • restore = bring back
  • steadily = slowly
  • suffer = here: the situation is very bad
  • suspicious = to think that someone may be guilty of doing something wrong
  • worship = to love,  respect and admire a person