The Great Wall

China’s Na­tional Sym­bol

China Scenic - - Dioms - By Cheng Long Pho­to­graph by Wang Xim­ing

Ifone, no mat­ter a Chi­nese or a for­eigner, is asked to list three na­tional sym­bols of China, the Great Wall is very likely among them. Shown on the na­tional em­blem, men­tioned in the na­tional an­them, and even printed on Chi­nese pass­ports and visas, the Great Wall, with its long his­tory, un­be­liev­able tech­nol­ogy of con­struc­tion and ac­tive in­volve­ment in the process of mod­ern China’s in­de­pen­dence and free­dom, is con­sid­ered an ideal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the coun­try.

The Great Wall of China owes its ex­is­tence to the his­tory of the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the set­tled agri­cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties and their no­madic neigh­bours to the north. From two thou­sand years ago, when the Great Wall was firstly built and con­nected to mark a de­fence line in North­ern China, it has been ex­tended, re­built and re­stored again and again, and of course, dur­ing the rest of the time, de­stroyed, ne­glected and for­got­ten. It has wit­nessed the cri­sis and con­flicts in China, and fi­nally man­aged to pro­tect the coun­try and its peo­ple, help­ing the civ­i­liza­tion to sur­vive and flour­ish.

The most dan­ger­ous threat to China through­out the his­tory per­haps was Ja­panese in­va­sion from 1931 to 1945. Af­ter oc­cu­pa­tion of North­east­ern part of China, Ja­panese army ad­vanced to the Great Wall, where they met a strong re­sis­tance of Chi­nese forces. Ja­panese ap­proach­ing the Great Wall put an alert on the whole China. Mao Ze­dong, the leader of the com­mu­nist party of China, called on all the Chi­nese to go to the Great Wall to de­fense the county. Tablets with the in­scrip­tion of his fa­mous say­ing, “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man”(不到长城非好汉) , are still stand­ing on the wall to­day. Ja­panese break­ing through the Great Wall de­fence at huge cost did not dis­cour­age Chi­nese, but in­spired them to unite to­gether, “to build an­other Great Wall with their strong wills” (众志成城). Any frac­tion and par­ti­tion within China would be seen as a sui­cide be­hav­ior, or “de­stroy the Great Wall of your own” (自毁长城).

To­day, China is not en­dan­gered any­more. But the tourists to the Great Wall still en­joy the tablets with Mao’s say­ing, and pre­fer to ex­plain it as: “The Great Wall is a must-see place. If you’ve never been there, you will leave China with a pity”. Which­ever in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the say­ing im­plies the sig­nif­i­cance of the Great Wall to China.

The year of 2017 marks the 70th an­niver­sary of the In­ci­dent at Marco Polo Bridge, where Ja­panese be­gan the at­tack of Bei­jing in 1937.The im­age of the Great Wall will def­i­nitely be con­nected to that part of his­tory in com­mem­o­ra­tion, if there is any, to re­fresh Chi­nese peo­ple with courage and con­fi­dence, as it al­ways did through ages.

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