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Human Damage Hastening Destruction of Great Wall

The Great Wall in west China is in danger of being destroyed by the reckless actions of people, experts are warning.


In Shaanxi Province, the ancient wall is in an advanced state of destruction as one-third of the structure built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) has disappeared forever.


Kang Lanying, former director of the Yulin municipal cultural heritage committee, said the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty covered 850 kilometers in Shaanxi. But as a result of human damage, the surviving part was only around 600 kilometers.


Destruction caused by transportation and energy project construction has grown worse in recent years, said an official with the Shaanxi cultural heritage bureau.


Up to 40 openings in the Shaanxi section of the Great Wall had been breached by roads.


And "there is a lot more", said the official.


Shaanxi boasts over 2,000 kilometers of the Great Wall built from the Warring States Period (475 B.C.-221 B.C.) to the Ming Dynasty, crossing 14 counties and cities, all of which are major cultural relics under state protection named by the State Council.


The same scene can be seen in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. 


The section of wall in Linhe Town, Ningwu City, built in the Ming Dynasty was cut into three parts to make way for roads.


Liu Hong'an, director of the Lingwu cultural heritage bureau, said the roads were built during the Spring Festival, leaving two openings 3 and 5 meters wide respectively.


The total length of the Great Wall in the region is over 1,500 kilometers, built in the Warring States Period, the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.), the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-230), the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and the Ming Dynasty.


"So Ningxia has been a 'Museum of the Great Wall' for a long time," said Liu.


Liu said the destroyed parts under state protection were begun in 1474, with a length of 387 kilometers then. But it collapsed, and was rebuilt in 1531 along 180 kilometers.


The two openings had been mended and a police investigation into the destruction is underway.


"As a result of natural erosion, such as weathering, and human damage, the Great Wall, the common wealth of humanity is under threat of aggravated destruction," said Liu.


"It calls for the attention of the whole of society to protect the Great Wall and to end the human destruction," said Liu.


A joint notice has been issued by Shaanxi provincial cultural heritage bureau, the public security department, the land and resources department, the construction department, the environmental protection department and the tourism bureau to strengthen protection and administration of the Great Wall in Shaanxi, to prohibit excessive and destructive exploitation, and to prosecute individuals or units harming the Great Wall.


(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2004)


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