I have often wondered why China's former leaders and the current leader, President Xi Jinping, have such an impartial view of Mao Zedong's brutal legacy as the head of the Communist Party from 1949 until 1976.
After much reading and quite a few trips to China, I've concluded the reason all Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders have given Mao a pass was established when Mao declared, "Only the CCP can save China!" When Mao made this declaration, he permanently embedded himself politically to the Communist party, thereby establishing no room for renunciation of the party line. In other words, denouncing Mao is denouncing the Communist party which is unacceptable. No leader since has allowed Mao's legacy to be formerly criticized.
Mao was followed by Deng Xiaoping who stated "Discrediting Comrade Mao Zedong would mean discrediting our party and the state." Deng's successor, Jiang Zemin similarly stated, "Only the CCP can rejuvenate China." Today, President Xi carries on this false narrative.
President Xi's approach regarding the issue of Mao's brutal dictatorship, under which millions of Chinese citizens were murdered, has been to impose rigid order that stifles criticism of Mao and his reign of the party. The party is instructed to not engage in improper discussion, and to fight and crush any dissent. This is why there is censorship in China and there is no debate about Mao's brutal legacy. The Party wants all to believe that only through CCP leadership can China succeed. Mao's legacy is alive and well.