Great Wall pro­tec­tion

Restora­tion of an­cient relics should be done like works of art, of­fi­cial says.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG KAIHAO in Ji­ayuguan, Gansu wangkai­hao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Heritage has sent in­ves­ti­ga­tors to a sec­tion of the GreatWall that some ne­ti­zens claim was poorly ren­o­vated.

“No one re­spon­si­ble for the project will be par­doned if man­age­ment er­ror or prob­lem­atic con­struc­tion qual­ity is found,” the ad­min­is­tra­tion said on Thurs­day.

Pic­tures of a two-kilo­me­ter sec­tion of the wall in Suizhong county, Liaon­ing prov­ince, showed that a flat pro­tec­tive layer, like a newly paved road, had been added on top of the wall.

Restora­tion of the 700-year-old sec­tion wound up in 2014, but did not come to pub­lic at­ten­tion un­til the pic­tures were posted on­line.

Ma­te­ri­als used for the restora­tion were not as hard as ne­ti­zens sus­pected, the ad­min­is­tra­tion said, and it would be eas­ier to re­store the orig­i­nal ap­pear­ance of the wall if deemed nec­es­sary once the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete.

“The point is that we can­not treat the restora­tion of cul­tural relics like a gen­eral con­struc­tion project,” Song Xin­chao, deputy di­rec­tor of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, told China Daily on Fri­day.

“Restora­tion should be treated like a piece of art.”

Song was in Ji­ayuguan, Gansu prov­ince, where the west end of the 8,000-km wall from the Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) is lo­cated. He spoke to 50 el­e­men­tary stu­dents at the foot of the wall to pro­mote their aware­ness of pro­tect­ing the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“Ed­u­ca­tion is the key to pro­tect­ing the wall, not money,” Song said.

“We have to make to­day’s peo­ple be­lieve that the Great Wall is part of their daily lives, but the wall can­not be dis­turbed too much.”

The bal­ance is a chal­lenge, he ad­mit­ted.

Ac­cord­ing to the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Heritage, more than 20,000 kilo­me­ters of the wall, built over many dy­nas­ties, are spread over 15 pro­vin­cial re­gions.

“Con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als of the wall in dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods and re­gions have wide va­ri­eties, which means our restora­tion meth­ods should be di­verse,” Song said. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Great Wall So­ci­ety of China showed that only eight per­cent of the Ming Dy­nasty wall is still well- pre­served, while 31 per­cent has al­most dis­ap­peared.

“It’s un­re­al­is­tic to de­mand the wall be in­tact,” Song said. “If some sec­tions have di­min­ished over time, reconstruction is not nec­es­sary.”

“An im­por­tant rule in restor­ing the wall is to in­ter­vene as lit­tle as pos­si­ble.”

He added that daily main­te­nance is more im­por­tant than mas­sive restora­tion.

“Not ev­ery sec­tion of the wall has to be like Bei­jing’s Badal­ing sec­tion af­ter restora­tion,” he said.

Stan­dards on restora­tion and man­age­ment of the wall be­gan in Au­gust.

“The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem for wall restora­tion will be more com­plete as well,” Song said.

He also said that ad­min­is­tra­tions man­ag­ing tourist sites along the wall need to take more re­spon­si­bil­ity for the pro­tec­tion of cul­tural relics.

31 per­cent of the Great Wall built dur­ing Ming Dy­nasty has al­most dis­ap­peared.

WANG KAIHAO / CHINA DAILY

Song Xin­chao, deputy di­rec­tor of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Heritage, gives a les­son to lo­cal pri­mary school stu­dents on Great Wall pro­tec­tion in Ji­ayuguan, Gansu prov­ince, on Fri­day.

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