China's official media has reaffirmed the Communist Party's longstanding judgment that the Cultural Revolution was a catastrophic mistake after staying silent on Monday's 50th anniversary of the start of the decade-long upheaval.

The official party mouthpiece People's Daily published an opinion piece on its website precisely at midnight on Tuesday praising the 1981 party resolution that condemned the bloody political movement launched by Mao Zedong to revive his revolutionary agenda.

The party has long suppressed open discussion of the tumultuous period, fearing that could undermine its legitimacy to rule and lead to direct criticism of Mao, the founder of the communist state who remains among its most revered figures.

No official commemorations have been held, although some Mao loyalists have staged private events.