In China, even issues in the remote past can be seen as having an immense potential impact on the politics of the present. Therefore, discussion of such events as the Cultural Revolution and the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre are highly restricted in the media and online. We had a glimpse of this recently with the censorship controversy involving the blocking in China of certain peer-reviewed articles appearing in academic journals published by Cambridge University Press.

As documented by China Digital Times, most of the articles blocked from the Journal of Asian Studies had to do with either the Cultural Revolution or Tibet.

The high degree of sensitivity surrounding topics like the Cultural Revolution means that even today, a half century later, discussion of any kind is discouraged — even if it might seem to offer favorable views of how Chinese society and politics have developed since that time. And so it is that the following post, arguing that the Cultural Revolution could not be repeated in China today, was deleted from Weibo at around 8:30AM today, January 10, just an hour after it was posted.

Is it still possible for a Cultural Revolution to happen again in China? — Definitely not! The closed and ignorant social fabric required for the Cultural Revolution was long ago a thing of the past, and the post-80s, 90s, and naughts will definitely not become the Red Guards of the new century!

The post was in fact a response to an earlier post linking to a WeChat article (since deleted) arguing that China was in danger of repeating the excesses of the Cultural Revolution and criticizing trends like the 2014 online hit song “Dumpling Shop“, which sang Xi Jinping’s praises as a man of the people after he visited a local Beijing dumpling shop in December 2013.