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Firm Fined for Damaging Great Wall
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For deliberately damaging the Great Wall a north China construction firm on Sunday paid a 500,000 yuan (US$63,776) fine, according to the local cultural heritage protection bureau.

In March Hongji Landbridge Investment Development Inc. started construction of a highway through a section of the Great Wall in Ulanqab City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, without government approval. 

Regional cultural heritage protection officials said the company refused to halt construction even after warnings and suggestions that they change the route, excavate channels or build viaducts.

Wang Dafang, an official with the regional cultural heritage bureau, said the construction led to the demolition of large sections of the Great Wall and three ancient villages under government protection. The bureau issued the fine according to cultural heritage protection laws on October 20, Wang added.

The Great Wall stretches more than 6,700 kilometers from west to northeast China. Its dates back to the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.) when separate sections were built in scattered strategic areas to defend against invasion by northern nomadic tribes.

Experts say the Great Wall has suffered extensive natural and human damage in recent years. Only 30 percent built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) remains. 

China's first regulation on protection of the Great Wall, which came into effect on Friday, prohibits the removal of soil or bricks, planting trees, carving on the Wall or building anything that doesn't actually protect it.

It also bans the use of motor vehicles on the world heritage site and the unauthorized organization of activities open to tourists.

Those who violate the regulations can be fined 10,000 to 50,000 yuan (US$1,276 to 6,378) while institutions can be fined 50,000 yuan to 500,000 yuan (US$6,378 to 63,776).

(Xinhua News Agency December 4, 2006)

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