'Great' wall keeps thieves at bay

By Yu Ran (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-02-01 07:58
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'Great' wall keeps thieves at bay
A car passes through the gate of Aodi village in East China's Zhejiang province on Friday. [Provided to China Daily]

SHANGHAI - Increasingly wealthy villagers in Taizhou of East China's Zhejiang province have built a huge wall around their village to ensure their safety.

"The residents in Aodi village urged us to find a solution to the increasing number of thefts, so we decided to build a village wall to cut the number of entrances from 10 to one," Ruan Guolin, chief of Kengzheng village, which administers three smaller villages including Aodi, told China Daily on Monday.

The 70-cm thick wall was built in a style similar to the Great Wall, with more than 70,000 adobe bricks and a 7-meter-tall iron gate.

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The construction of the wall cost about 500,000 yuan ($75,700), 70 percent of which was raised from the villagers. The construction of the wall began last September and it was put into use in January.

The gate, open to the public during the day, will be closed after 10 pm when only IC card holders can swipe their cards to get in.

"Each family has two entrance cards, and a security office by the entrance is open 24 hours to offer emergency assistance," Ruan said.

The Aodi village, with a population of about 270 residents, once had three sides facing the mountains and only one side was open to the public.

However, a provincial highway was built next to the village in 2007, which stimulated the economic development of the area.

In the past four years, most of the villagers in Aodi have gotten much wealthier due to the opening up of the area and the building of dozens of factories. By the end of last year, the average annual income of 76 families exceeded 20,000 yuan, while 60 percent of them had built private villas and 40 percent owned cars.

"Thefts occurred extremely frequently as people are richer and have more expensive furniture, electric equipment and even more cash at home," said Ruan.

He said most of the families have been victims of thefts for all sorts of items including mobile phones, computers and cash.

Since the launch of the village wall, there have been no cases of theft in the village, according to Ruan.

"The wall is very useful in preventing thefts, and everyone now feels safe to celebrate the coming Spring Festival in the village," he said.

'Great' wall keeps thieves at bay

However, a hot debate among netizens and experts has been ignited.

"It's quite ridiculous to lock the villagers up for their protection during the night, which seems to draw more attention to the fact that valuable properties are inside," said freelance columnist Wan Xiaoyang, who blogged on the topic on Monday.

Wan added that such behavior occurred very often in ancient China when people built walls to prevent wars and danger.

"I believe it is a way to ease the thefts but not the appropriate method to ensure social security. Awareness of self-protection should be raised among local villagers," said Liu Xiaobing, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Liu said the villagers who got wealthy in a short period should be encouraged to save money in the bank and have proper investments instead of keeping valuable items at home and worrying about theft.