Depending on whichever sect one belongs to, one's interpretation of China, Mao and Maoism will differ. The classical Trotskyist/anarchist line is that China was never socialist to begin with; rather, Mao took as his example the bureaucratic form of capitalism that the Soviet Union had built. Mao made it clear that this was the case, but argued that this was the basis of socialist plenitude in the future. The socialist veneer, however, was just that and the actual ideological framework could more accurately described as nationalist. This makes sense. The class character of the leadership was essentially middle-class, hence their focus on developing capitalist industry as the pathway for socialism, and national independence as an end unto itself. This character, however, mutated with the repression leading up to the revolution; that is, as there was no large working-class in China, the members of the Chinese Communist Party was driven into the countryside, where they adopted guerilla tactics and military style hierarchies. The peasantry, for example, was subordinated to the leadership and then used as fighters for their purposes. This culture, the class character of their objectives and the influence of Stalin coalesced to create an early, authoritarian iteration of China. Personally, I don't dismiss the experience out of some ideological purity, because I do think there are ideas worth taking from them and Maoism more generally.