Local peasant protects his part of The Great Wall

Insight

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The Great Wall protected China for centuries, but today it’s in urgent need of its own protection.

Less than 10 percent of the Great Wall remains in good condition. Around 20 percent is badly damaged, and 30 percent has already disappeared.

CCTV’s Han Peng reports on one man’s effort to salvage what he can.

Local peasant protects his part of The Great Wall

Local peasant protects his part of The Great Wall

The Great Wall protected China for centuries, but today it’s in urgent need of its own protection. Less than 10 percent of the Great Wall remains in good condition. Around 20 percent is badly damaged, and 30 percent has already disappeared. CCTV’s Han Peng reports on one man’s effort to salvage what he can.

It’s the so-called “Wild Great Wall”, or a section that’s neither preserved nor developed into a tourist attraction. Most of the Great Wall comprises of such sections.

As a local peasant who grew up under an unrestored section of the Great Wall, Bai Chunxiang said he decided to defend the disappearing UNESCO cultural heritage site on his doorstep ten years ago.

Bai says that hostility lasted until 2010, before local authorities actually hired him as a Great Wall protector. Although the salary is a modest $1,000 USD a year, he says he is glad to have an official position now.

Over the past ten years, he’s patrolled his section of the wall at least once a week, and regularly submits to local authorities reports of any new damage.

Bai says his single-minded protection somehow raised the awareness of nearby villagers. But the biggest damage is caused by nature.

Bai’s work has prevented a collapse in the wall, but it caused huge controversy on the Internet. Some criticized him for damaging the original structure, saying his remedy is worse than the disease. Others argue how it was unwise to leave the protection of such an important architecture to unqualified peasants.

Although the episode left him feeling despondent, Bai says it was a sound learning experience.

China formulated a Great Wall Protection Regulation in 2006 and invested $60 million to prevent the most urgent 50-kilometer section near Beijing from collapsing. But the Great Wall is 20,000 kilometers in length, stretching right out across the country.

Bai has only responsibility for the one-kilometer section near his home.

Today we are still losing the Great Wall, brick by brick, because of both human activities and natural conditions. How to prevent one of the greatest world wonders from disappearing remains a tough question.


Reuben Lombardo discusses protecting historical sites

To further discuss protecting historical sites and landmarks, CCTV America’s Susan Roberts spoke with Reuben Lombardo, Senior Preservation Estimator at Spectra Company.