A historical and overall view should be taken while passing judgment on Chairman Mao Zedong, President Xi Jinping said on Thursday.
It has been the Chinese people's greatest dream for centuries to achieve national rejuvenation, and Mao led the people to achieve national independence and defeat the invaders, Xi said at a symposium in Beijing to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Mao's birth.
Mao died on Sept 9, 1976.
Mao made serious mistakes during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), and the mistakes were not only because of personal reasons, but also due to complex international and domestic factors, which should be judged from an overall and historical perspective, Xi said.
Building socialism in China was an unprecedented endeavour in Mao's era, and the Chinese leaders then, with no examples to follow, had to blaze trails all on their own, Xi said.
Leaders should neither be worshipped like gods, nor be denied completely due to their mistakes, and the mistakes should become a valuable historical lesson for the Party, Xi stressed.
Calling Mao "a great patriot and national hero", Xi said, "Mao changed the face of the nation and led the Chinese people to a new destiny".
Xi mentioned in his speech that paramount leader Deng Xiaoping used to say that the banner of Mao Zedong Thought could not be cast away, or the Party's glorious history will be challenged.
Before the symposium, the seven members of the Party's top-ruling body visited Mao's mausoleum in Tian'anmen Square, bowing three times in front of Mao's seated statue and paying a visit to the body of Mao.