Shanxi Drawing up Great Wall Protection Plan

created: 2012-11-21

Xinhua, November 20, 2012
North China's Shanxi Province is drawing up a plan to protect ancient Great Wall structures which have suffered serious damage from natural and human causes, a local official said on Monday.
Before the end of 2015, the province will complete the erection of protection signs and recruit surveillance staff from local villagers along the Wall, said Bai Xuebing, an official with the Shanxi Cultural Heritage Bureau.
"We plan to establish guard rails or concrete protection dams along Great Wall stretches in farmland, villages or rivers, locations which have made them prone to human or natural damage," said Bai.
China's remaining Great Wall is 21,196.18 km long in total, according to survey results released by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in June.
Made of earth or stones, the Great Wall spans 15 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities from west to east, including Qinghai, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Beijing and Jilin.
The Great Wall as a whole was listed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1987. Consisting of walls, horse tracks, watch towers and fortresses, the Wall was continuously built from the third century B.C. to the 17th century A.D. as a great military defense project of different dynasties.
In Youyu County in northern Shanxi, the local government has spent more than 20 million yuan (about 3.17 million U.S. dollars) on renovating the Zuowei ancient city, an important part of the Great Wall structure during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
But in some other areas in Youyu, stretches of the Wall have been almost leveled to the ground in remote areas due to lack of protection.
"The top problem is the shortage of money," said Bai. "Investment so far has mainly come from the government, but it has been far from enough. The limited sum of money could only be used for the protection of key stretches."
The state of the structure in some other provinces is worrying, too.
Northeast China's Jilin Province has 414 km of Great Wall structures.
"The earth-built section in Laobiangang has almost disappeared due to natural erosion and human damage," according to Zhao Diankun, an archaeologist in Siping City, Jilin.
Some sites of the Wall have become farmlands, rural roads and forests in the county, said Zhao.
Poor awareness of protection among local residents and the financial difficulties of local governments should be blamed for the damage, he added.
The province will carry out restoration of the Wall in accordance with their state of disrepair, said the provincial cultural heritage bureau.

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