Asia

Monday marks 50 years since start of Cultural Revolution

  • FILE - In this file photo from 1966, former Chinese leader Mao Zedong observes Cultural Revolution inspired Red Guards assembled in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Monday, May 16, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of a 1966 party meeting that spearheaded the 10-year Cultural Revolution, a violent and frequently chaotic attempt by Mao to reassert his power and revive his party's egalitarian ideals. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE - In this file photo from 1966, former Chinese leader Mao Zedong observes Cultural Revolution inspired Red Guards assembled in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Monday, May 16, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of a 1966 party meeting that spearheaded the 10-year Cultural Revolution, a violent and frequently chaotic attempt by Mao to reassert his power and revive his party's egalitarian ideals. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Vendors unfurl a banner from 1969 depicting former Chinese leader Mao Zedong as he "inspects the great army of the Cultural Revolution" and the slogan "Navigating the seas depends on the helmsman" at a curio market in Beijing, China, Monday, May 16, 2016. Exactly 50 years ago, China embarked on what was formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a decade of tumult launched by Mao Zedong to revive communist goals and enforce a radical egalitarianism. The milestone was largely ignored Monday in the Chinese media, reflecting continuing sensitivities about a period that was later declared a "catastrophe." (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    Vendors unfurl a banner from 1969 depicting former Chinese leader Mao Zedong as he "inspects the great army of the Cultural Revolution" and the slogan "Navigating the seas depends on the helmsman" at a curio market in Beijing, China, Monday, May 16, 2016. Exactly 50 years ago, China embarked on what was formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a decade of tumult launched by Mao Zedong to revive communist goals and enforce a radical egalitarianism. The milestone was largely ignored Monday in the Chinese media, reflecting continuing sensitivities about a period that was later declared a "catastrophe." (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Vendors wait for customers at a curio market near a display of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong alongside images of emperors and deities in Beijing, China, Monday, May 16, 2016. Exactly 50 years ago, China embarked on what was formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a decade of tumult launched by Mao Zedong to revive communist goals and enforce a radical egalitarianism. The milestone was largely ignored Monday in the Chinese media, reflecting continuing sensitivities about a period that was later declared a "catastrophe." (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    Vendors wait for customers at a curio market near a display of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong alongside images of emperors and deities in Beijing, China, Monday, May 16, 2016. Exactly 50 years ago, China embarked on what was formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a decade of tumult launched by Mao Zedong to revive communist goals and enforce a radical egalitarianism. The milestone was largely ignored Monday in the Chinese media, reflecting continuing sensitivities about a period that was later declared a "catastrophe." (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

The 50th anniversary of the start of China's violent Cultural Revolution is passing without fanfare and has been almost completely ignored by the Communist Party-controlled media.

On May 16, 1966, the party's Politburo met to purge a quartet of top officials who had fallen out of favor with Communist leader Mao Zedong. The event also produced a document announcing the start of the decade-long drive to pursue class warfare, enforce radical egalitarianism and enlist the population in mass political movements.

The start of the Cultural Revolution was not widely known or understood and the time, but soon took on a violent agenda, leading to the downfall of leading officials, factional battles, mass rallies and the exile of educated youths to the countryside.

No official events were held to commemorate Monday's anniversary.