The Great Wall
China’s National Symbol
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.