No one is a hero, a renowned Chinese leader once said, until he steps onto the Great Wall. Nowadays too many Chinese want to become "heroes", as they flood onto the Great Wall and carve their names on its bricks.
The Great Wall has been suffering this graphic damage for many years. Now - according to a Xinhua News Agency report, Saturday - the Great Wall Association and the management of the Great Wall at Badaling have initiated a joint campaign to curb the graffiti habit and also invite proposals as to how the wall can best be patched and repaired so as to better protect this world heritage site.
In a recent interview with the media, Dong Yaohui, deputy chairman of the Great Wall Association, spoke in heart-sick tones of how no brick in the Wall seems to have escaped the graffitists' hands.
He recalled accompanying a visiting dignitary to the Wall in 1998, and how the leader's daughter curiously touched or pointed at the graffiti carved on the stones. He was unable to properly present the grandeur of the Great Wall to these foreign guests, but instead worried about how he would explain if they asked him about these remarks on the Wall. He said he felt terribly ashamed of his Chinese fellows who had carved on the bricks.
It is reported that tourists have carved remarks with knives, or even painted on the wall with liquid inks and paint, in incisions up to half a centimeter in depth. The earliest graffiti can be traced back to the 1950s, but now the phenomena appear to be becoming less and less apparent.
Chairman Dong has called on the public and tourists to join hands to protect the Great Wall, the only structure of its kind on the World Heritage List.
In Beijing, the municipal government has made great efforts in this regard, proclaiming in August 2003 a local law to strengthen protective measures for the Great Wall.
The municipality stipulates that all local government bodies and individuals within the administrative region along the Great Wall, as well as all tourists, foreign and domestic, are obliged to take measures to protect the Great Wall.
Also in July 2004, more than eight hundred retired Chinese generals made a proposal calling on the public to protect the Great Wall.
They made their call on the 20th anniversary of late leader, Deng Xiaoping, who inscribed the words: "Love China and Mend the Great Wall" in 1984. A wave of protection activities have also been initiated by Chinese people both at home and abroad.
(CRI November 6, 2005)