Rediscovering the Great Wall of China
Since childhood, people of our generation have been embracing a notion—that is, when astronauts look back to the earth from outer space, the Great Wall of China, like a giant dragon lying across the east of the earth, is the only thing faintly visible. But now, our astronauts have clarified that the notion is not true, and the existence of this notion may be a product of Chinese people’s benevolent imagination.
In the 1920s, William Somerset Maugham, a British writer, had been to China, and wrote a book called On a Chinese Screen, in which there was a short essay titled The Great Wall. In Maugham’s eyes, the Great Wall is not only a giant and strong rampart that safeguards an ancient empire, but a historical witness to the sacrifice of millions of lives. Being one of the world’s architectural marvels, the Great Wall symbolizes the hardship and indomitable ethos of ancient China.
This, I believe, is the real Great Wall of China in foreigners’ eyes, and is also the one winning the general acknowledgement of Chinese people these days. With the transition in Chinese people’s psychological recognition of the Great Wall, it might be easier for you to realize the progress and development of contemporary China. A new China, more open, real and confident, is about to unfold
itself to the world.
Speaking of the Great Wall, I have to mention the Belt and Road Initiative that China is actively promoting and carrying out these days. Looking back on the far-off times, the Silk Road, stretching from Changan’ today’s Xi’an City, Capital city of Shanxi Province of China to Rome of Italy (the terminal point), not only witnessed the transport of silk, ceramics, tea, spices and glass, but also paper, a great invention of ancient China, and the culture, civilization, and philosophical thought it carried. In fact, the Silk Road was a pathway for the exchange, mutual reference, and integration between the eastern and western civilizations. John Donne wrote with mixed feelings in his poem – “No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind……”
In this sense, although it is no doubt that the Great Wall belongs to China, why can’t we regard it as the symbol of the hardship mankind has endured and the unyielding willpower and spirit of all humanity? By the same token, the purpose of the Belt and Road initiative was never to create a “private road” for just the Chinese people, but to construct a “road to happiness” for all friendly nations along the route and build a better future together, and to form a trustworthy, accommodating, integrated and broad community with common goals, destinies, and responsibilities.
(Translated: Zhu Yaguang)