The Cultural Revolution happened because China lacked democracy, Jiangsu party secretary Li Yuanchao said yesterday.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Communist Party's 17th National Congress in Beijing, Mr Li said the Cultural Revolution could have been avoided if China had had democracy. And even if the disaster could not have been avoided, it would not have lasted as long if democracy had been practised in China, he said. Mr Li, 57, was a teenager when the decade-long chaos of the Cultural Revolution was unleashed in 1966.
Still, Mr Li, who is widely tipped for promotion after the congress, said China could not copy western experience in promoting democracy.
The Cultural Revolution started by party chairman Mao Zedong to purge political rivals was a catastrophe, causing millions of deaths and ruining the economy.
On Saturday, Hong Kong's chief executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, apologised for saying in an RTHK radio interview a day earlier that democracy 'taken to its full swing' had led to episodes such as the Cultural Revolution.
'People go to the extreme, and you have a Cultural Revolution, for instance ... When people take everything into their hands, then you cannot govern the place,' he said.