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Care needed for Great Wall's preservation

2020-08-24 07:23:00 / CHINA DAILY

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Although the Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall in Huairou, Beijing, was recognized as a key heritage site under State protection as early as March 2013, for years, local villagers have turned it to a cash cow to collect "entrance fees" and "guide fees" from sightseers without the permission of the cultural relics and tourism authorities.

As long as the fee is paid, tourists are allowed to climb the mountains along whose ridges the Great Wall meanders. The damages inflicted by the villagers' "business" upon the Great Wall, which was built in the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) are self-evident. It is not rare for tourists to bring home bricks from the already run-down wall as a souvenir or to carve their names on the wall.

How can the local watchdogs of the tourism industry and the cultural relics protection departments sit back with folded arms ignoring the practice for such a long time is a question that still awaits an answer.

Reportedly, some of the money the villagers make finds its way into the pockets of those who are legally bound to protect the Great Wall. That's why the villagers have become so assured and bold that they claim as natives to the area at the foot of the Great Wall, they are naturally entitled to profit from it, as if the Great Wall is their private property.

Unlike the Badaling section of the Great Wall in Yanqing, Beijing, which is taken good care of as a showpiece of the nation's historical heritage, most parts of the Great Wall have been weather-worn over by the years without repair since the Manchurians from the north put an end to the rule of the Ming Dynasty, making the once important national defense project nothing but a wall running through the middle of the large Qing Empire.

Nearly one-third of the Great Wall built in the Ming Dynasty has disappeared because of weathering and human causes over the past 300 years. Not to mention the parts that had been built before that.

With the Beidou satellite global navigation system in place and the advancement of technologies in other fields related to the protection of cultural heritage, the country is now better able to protect the Great Wall. But unless the malpractice of the grassroots authorities is addressed, no technology will be of practical assistance to preserving this historical legacy for future generations.

The Great Wall's remarkable length and magnificence are not reasons for it be left untended, but exactly why it should be well preserved.

(Written by LI YANG)

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