The writing's (on the Net) on the Wall
Updated: 2006-02-28 05:41
The burly man delicately places his right elbow on the arm of the chair but
the pain hasn't gone away.
As a police officer who has worked in Beijing for almost 25 years, he has
suffered his share of injuries in clashes with culprits; this one, though, was
the result of an accident during a visit to an undeveloped section of the Great
"The injuries, the bleeding and the twisted ankles are
very common," he said. "We still go on the adventures."
A view of the Great Wall
He obviously believes the good work that he and his friends do is worth all
A director of an on-campus police station at Peking University, Hong Feng,
44, is better known for his volunteer work towards Great Wall protection. He
uses the name Shishu on www.thegreatwall.com.cn a website where he and a group
of other equally passionate volunteers share an interest in the ancient
Hong reads extensively about the Wall and posts regularly on the website. But
more than that, he and his Internet friends take trips on weekends to
less-visited sections of the Great Wall in and around Beijing to inspect sites
damaged or collapsed because of inadequate protection.
They face challenges such as getting lost in mountainous terrain at night,
the threat of wild animals and accidental wounds. Through it all, their fervour
for the culture of the landscape has never dampened.
The Great Wall, built originally as a military structure, holds great
significance for the Chinese.
In imperial times, it served as the division between territories, cultures,
military forces and different lifestyles. Now it is probably the most widely
recognized symbol of the country's spirit.
But apart from a number of sections including Badaling, Simatai and Mutianyu,
which have been renovated and are open to visitors much of the Wall is
threatened by both natural destruction and lack of maintenance. Graffiti and
rubbish are only some of the eyesores hotels and homes are also springing up
Realizing the increasing dangers to its preservation, insightful and
enthusiastic individuals from China and overseas are showing their concern. One
place they get together to do that is the website, known as Changcheng Xiaozhan,
or the "Little Site of the Great Wall."
The site, founded in 1999, provides stories and pictures related to the Wall.
Beyond spurring public education initiatives and protection via networks, photo
exhibitions and other modern means, the site encourages research of the Wall and
offers a bulletin board for information sharing and discussion.