Mao Zedong Thought should continue to remain an important factor in New China's politics and life. However it must be remembered that during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution Mao was only 7 parts good and 3 parts bad and made serious errors. I wont touch on the GL Forward since thats pure economics. But on the subject of the Cultural Revolution Mao was relatively blameless and his attempt to create a direct democracy not seen since Ancient Athens was noble. However he made two grave errors 1) He allowed the revolution to be prosecuted by students instead of the people 2) He allowed ambitious leaders like Lin Biao and the Gang of Four to use the revolution for personal gain.
Finally we must recognize that Deng Xiaoping Theory begins with Mao Zedong. The great increases in trade with the outside world began under Mao in 1970 not 1979. Trade gre more rapidly from 1970-1976 than it did post1979. In addition Mao Zedong began the development of free markets and private ownership on a small scale after 1969. Socialism with Chinese Characteristics begins in 1970 not 1979. In addition actions taken by Mao in the 1970s assured the rise of Deng and his endorsement of Hua Guofeng over the Gang of Four reveals his true intentions. China is more than just leaders its wrong to assume that Deng Xiaoping Theory just means Deng as an individual rather it is the historical changes in a great nation.