Re­dis­cov­er­ing the Great Wall of China

Special Focus - - Spotlight - By Xu Lu

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)

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