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Fresh bricks in old wall

Updated: 2015-10-20 07:17:13

( China Daily )

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The Great Wall in Hebei province is facing challenges of time and neglect, but local authorities are trying to change the situation. [Photo by Wang Kaihao/China Daily]

In the past 11 years, Qiao and others have made people aware of the cultural significance of the Wall.

As a former police officer, he is also able to persuade tourists to leave the Wall without etching on it. Some visitors want to take home bricks as souvenirs for their "good luck" charm, he says.

But the young generations aren't as "emotional about the Wall" as older Chinese are, Qiao adds.

The average age of the protection squad in Funing is 56.

According to Yang Dahai, director of Funing's cultural heritage protection institution, a monthly salary of about 2,000 yuan might help get more young people into the fold.

"If we can have 850,000 yuan of financial support a year, we can maintain the Wall's status quo in Funing," Yang says. They only get 60,000 yuan annually.

Most famous sections of the Great Wall, which are popular tourist destinations, get more funds.

For example, ongoing restoration works covering 499 meters of the Wall in Qinhuangdao's urban Shanhaiguan district is worth 50 million yuan. The restorers even have spare money to spend on designing a lawn there.

According to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the Great Wall today is nationally survived by a 21,196-km stretch, of which 6,259 km was built in the Ming Dynasty. But even among sections of the Wall that were built more recently, less than 10 percent are found to be "relatively well-preserved", let alone those from the earlier times.

"The Great Wall represents the vicissitudes of Chinese history, which is reflected in the old look," says Zhang Yimeng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage.

Many past restorations had been done in ways to appeal to just short-term tourism resources.

"Should we keep creating new facades for those walls which already disappeared in the ancient times, or switch our attention to prolong the life of surviving parts?"

The answer needs a balance, he says.

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