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The writing's (on the Net) on the Wall
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-28 05:41

"It has more than 5,000 registered members," said Zhang Jun, one of its founders. "Among them are entrepreneurs, police officers, professional photographers, college students and members of other organizations involved in historical site protection. Hundreds are as active as Hong."

The website provides a brief introduction in English, and foreigners can participate in the discussion and adventure with the help of members who can communicate in both English and Chinese.

In his e-mail to a website member, Ian Law, a British technical transfer manager from York, called the website "great and very informative." He enquired for information on the glutinous rice that was put into the mortar used to build the Wall during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Other organizations

Organizations for the Great Wall protection have sprouted up since the mid-1980s. The most influential ones include the China Great Wall Society, which advocates restoring the Great Wall and has established an Academy of the Great Wall to give greater credence to its work. The society is made up of amateur and professional conservationists, architects and archaeologists dedicated to mapping, documenting and conserving the heritage.

Another is the International Friends of the Great Wall, founded in 2001 by William Lindesay of Britain with the support of the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage and UNESCO. It focuses on maintaining Beijing's undeveloped "wild Wall," embarking on public education initiatives and strengthening legal protection.

Distinguished from other organizations, the members of Changcheng Xiaozhan think of themselves as ordinary volunteers or "fans."

"Mr Lindesay has a unique power to direct public attention on Great Wall protection," said Zhang Jun, an electrical engineer. "But what we do is what we really feel from the heart and what we can fulfil. The results can be immediately seen."

Also, the website is unique to use network as the channel to organize adventures and other events. Members never pry to private lives unless they would like to communicate with each other during activities.

"The site's slogan is 'Love the Wall, Love the Life,' " Zhang said. "It's really a home to members who share their interests in the rampart." The group even holds get-togethers and sporting events regularly.

Hong is one of the most dedicated members. He is regarded as an outstanding representative because of his admirable knowledge about the Great Wall and his adventures.

In the past few years, Hong has scanned almost all the major ancient books regarding the Wall. He transcribed the history of ancient dynasties from threadbare books into his computer.

Friends were amazed at his fascination with the voluminous historical records, which were written without pauses or punctuation. Professors say he was the equivalent of a doctoral student of history or archaeology. Some friends call him "the grand academician of Hanlin," referring to the ancient literary academy. He logs onto the site daily and posts an article of about 5,000 words every month.
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