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NW China's museum of Great Wall faces aggravated destruction
Updated: 2004-05-22 16:37

The Great Wall relics in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous region, known as China's Museum of the Great Wall, are under aggravated human and natural destruction, endangering the most famous cultural relics of China.

According to Xu Cheng, deputy director of the local cultural heritage bureau, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, located at the meeting point of the agricultural culture and the nomadic culture, boasts over 1,500-km-long parts of the Great Wall.

This includes that built in the Warring States Period (475 B.C.- 221 B.C.), in the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.), in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-230), in the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and in the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644).

So the part of the Great Wall in Ningxia assembles various architectural forms including those rammed with earth, constructed with sand and gravel and built with rocks.

"That's why Ningxia has the name of the Museum of the Great Wall," said Xu. As an expert on the Great Wall, he has written two works on it.

But what puzzles and worries Xu most is the aggravation of the destruction to the Great Wall.

For example, the part of the Great Wall in the Zhongwei City of Ningxia which was built during the reign of the Qinshihuang (259- 210 B.C.), the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty who unified China for the first time in history, saw its wall seriously destroyed after over 2,000 years of exposure to the raid of wind and rain and the baptism of frequent wars.

And the wall base of the part in the Shizuishan City along the Helan Mountains which was built in the Ming Dynasty has collapsed as a result of years of erosion of wind and sand.

According to Xu, except for natural factors, human activity is another important cause for the destruction of the Great Wall in Ningxia.

Lacking consciousness of protection, people who have lived nearby the Great Wall for generations have done damage to the Great Wall with their routine activities.

Even now, such man-made damages to the Great Wall still exist as building pigpens upon the wall, taking earth from the wall and even digging passages in the wall.

"The part of the Great Wall in Ningxia is distributed in a vast area of 51,800 square kilometers mainly composed of desert and mountains, so it is quite difficult for personnel in cultural relics management to reach, therefore increasing the difficulty of protection," said Xu.

Furthermore, the strapped financing of the local governments in China's western regions where a large part of the Great Wall runs across also limits the protection of the Great Wall.

"Together with the lack of professional protection technology, all those factors contribute to the current embarrassed state of the Great Wall, which spans over 7,000 kilometers," said Xu.

Added to the World Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO, the protection of the Great Wall has drawn close attention around the country.

"The Great Wall is not only a precious heritage of the Chinese people, but also a common cultural wealth of the world, demanding all of us to take action as soon as possible for its protection," said Xu.

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