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Pressing Great Wall Protection
"The Great Wall is a symbol of civilization. At the moment, people can only see one third of the 12,700 li (6,400 kilometers) long wall. A further third is obscured by stone and sand, and the remaining portion has completely vanished," said Dong Yaohui, secretary-general of the China Great Wall Society.

The China Great Wall Society organized a special group to travel 9,000 kilometers, from August 4 to September 16 this year, to investigate over 100 sections of the Great Wall and determine the needs and challenges facing its protection.

For instance, a 1,000-meter-long wall in Langwogou Village, Hebei Province, could still be seen up until a year ago, but now the local cultural relics bureau finds the wall has totally vanished. Local people have not only stolen the stones above the ground’s surface, but also removed the foundation of the wall.

In northwest China, local farmers were unable to find suitable bricks and soil to build their houses because of increasingly severe desertification in the region. Some people have resorted to stealing rammed earth and stones from the Great Wall.

The Great Wall faces another threat. In order to develop tourism and attract more visitors to their regions many local governments have spent large amounts of money on renovating the Great Wall. While at first this sounds like a good idea, unfortunately the original look and feel of the Great Wall has faded in the process of restorations.

Dong said,” The significance of the Great Wall is to reveal Chinese people's intelligence and indomitable character. The Great Wall should not be completely renovated as with other ancient structures. Over-development of the Great Wall is a more serious form of destruction than the stealing of its stones.”

In addition, more people would prefer to visit an undeveloped Great Wall. This introduces significant difficulties when making decisions on how best to protect the Great Wall. For example, over 10,000 people visit the Great Wall at Huanghuacheng and Jiankou every year, further covering the great relic with stones and sand. Sections of the Great Wall continue to be seriously damaged due to poor tourist management.

The Beijing municipal government and Cultural Relics Bureau have made notable efforts in protecting the Great Wall. Sections of the wall at Badaling and Mutianyu have been well preserved and are now renowned both at home and abroad.

A proposal entitled “The Great Wall Protection Measures” has been submitted to Beijing Municipal People’s Congress. Once the measures come into effect, the Great Wall will receive enhanced protection.

(China.org.cn by Liu Yuming, November 2, 2002)

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