CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (1/29/2019 Tue.)


Podcast: Story in the Story (1/29/2019 Tue.)

People's Daily app

01:39, January 29, 2019


From the People's Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

The Great Wall of China is regarded as one of the greatest sights in the world. It is the longest wall in the world, an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. 

It consists of many interconnected walls built between the seventh century BC and the Ming Dynasty and was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. 

It winds more than 21,000 kilometers across northern China covering rugged country and steep mountains and takes in some eye-catching scenery. It is more than 2300 years old. 

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) has announced a comprehensive plan for the long-term conservation and utilization of the Wall. 

Sections of the Wall built during the Qin (221 BC to 206 BC), Han (202 BC to 220 AD) and Ming (1368 AD to 1644 AD) dynasties are the key areas to be conserved. 

Today's story in the story looks at the government's plans to preserve one of the nation's most iconic relics.

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The Great Wall at Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, file photo. (Photo: IC) 

The government's role in protecting the Great Wall should be strengthened, said Liu Yuzhu, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage. 

"Individuals and relevant social organizations are encouraged to provide not-for-profit service for the Great Wall," Liu said. 

Authorities say "excessive restoration" of the Great Wall will be avoided in the future to help preserve its historical integrity. 

Thirteen years in the making, the national-level Great Wall conservation plan will be used to guide restoration, management of public access and academic research until 2035. 

"Many people have biased understandings," said Song Xinchao, deputy director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration. "They confuse restoration of the wall with development of a tourist attraction." 

He said that restorations of the main structures are often not differentiated from general construction work. 

"Many restorers have stereotyped ideas that every section of the Great Wall should be like Badaling in Beijing," he said. "That leads to many problems." 

In 2015, restoration of a section of the Great Wall in Suizhong county, Liaoning province, aroused widespread anger online after portions were paved over with cement, destroying its original facade. 

A collapsed gate along the Great Wall in Shanyin county, Shanxi province, was worked on in 2017, but it was widely criticized for its unattractive appearance. 

In the new plan, the principle of minimum intervention is emphasized. 

"For those portions that have become ruins, the priority is to avoid or slow down their disappearance. Massive restoration is not suitable in such cases," the document said. 

"We will enhance the expertise among restorers, though no uniform standards for fixing the Great Wall should be set. However, more scientific guidance is needed to encourage each section to use standards based on its own characteristics and materials," Song said.

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Nearby villagers remove weeds and tree branches from a section of the Great Wall in Beijing in November. (Photo: Xinhua) 

Liu said the Great Wall is not only an architectural wonder but also a landmark that promotes national pride. 

For example, Chinese soldiers fought Japanese forces in 1933 along the Great Wall near Beijing. 

"The Great Wall is deeply rooted in Chinese people's hearts as a form of spiritual strength," Liu said. "In the new conservation plan, nongovernmental efforts are encouraged to organize more protection for the structure and promote educational programs." 

Liu said that about 100 million yuan ($14.7 million) has been allocated annually to protect the Great Wall in recent years, and most funds have been spent on key sections. But many local patrols overseeing the structure still lack sufficient financial support. 

"Now that the conservation plan has been released, local governments can put more emphasis on the work," Liu said. 

The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation joined hands with US technology giant Intel in 2018 to use artificial intelligence and aerial drones to monitor sections of the Great Wall near Beijing and help facilitate future restoration work. 

Research institutes from China and the United Kingdom have also been holding regular symposiums since 2017 to improve protection of the Great Wall, as well as Hadrian's Wall, which was built by the Romans in northern England. 

Similarly, there are many projects underway across China to restore relics of national importance. 

Examples include Beijing's famed imperial Jingshan Park restoring ancient buildings within its precincts, as part of the overall push to help the capital city get its iconic central axis into UNESCO's world cultural heritage list. 

A new research center has been opened at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing to boost studies on Yuanmingyuan, or the Old Summer Palace. 

And in Luoyang, in Henan province, the city government plans to restore architecture of the 6th and 7th centuries as cultural relics have been detected underground. 

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Brian Lowe, Lance Crayon, and Chelle Wenqian Zeng. Music by: Text from China Daily.)

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