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Human impact threatens Great Wall

The Great Wall, parts of which are 2,600 years old, extends for 6,000 kilometers.
The Great Wall, parts of which are 2,600 years old, extends for 6,000 kilometers.

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BEIJING, China -- Parts of China's Great Wall are in danger because of reckless human activities, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Xinhua quoted a heritage expert Wednesday as saying new roads being built in western China have made up to 40 openings in the Shaanxi province section of the wall. Energy projects are also having an impact.

China's Great Wall, which was begun in the 7th century B.C., is a major tourist attraction and "must-see" for overseas visitors.

Most visit the wall at Badaling north of Beijing, but the full Great Wall extends for 6,000 kilometers (3750 miles) from the Jiayu Pass in Gansu province in the west to the mouth of the Yalu River in Liaoning province in the east.

Kang Lanying, former director of the Yulin municipal cultural heritage committee, told Xinhua that of 850 kilometers of the Great Wall constructed in Shaanxi during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), only 600 kilometers now survived.

More than 2,000 kilometers of the Wall runs through Shaanxi, crossing 14 counties and cities. It was built from the Warring States period (475 B.C.-221 B.C.) to the Ming Dynasty, and is designated as a major cultural relic under state protection.

But an official with the Shaanxi cultural heritage bureau quoted by Xinhua said destruction of the wall resulting from transportation and energy projects had grown worse in recent years.

Shaanxi province officials have issued an order prohibiting "excessive and destructive exploitation" of the Great Wall.

A similar situation exists in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, where part of the wall in Ningwu city's Linhe town, built in the Ming Dynasty, was cut into three parts to make way for roads.

Liu Hong'an, director of the Ningwu cultural heritage bureau, said the roads were built during a recent festival and left two openings 3 meters and 5 meters wide respectively.

Liu said Ningxia had been a "museum" of the Great Wall for a long time, as the total length of the wall in the region was more than 1,500 kilometers. Parts were built in the Warring States era, and the subsequent Qin, Han, Sui and Ming dynasties.

Liu said natural erosion and human damage were putting the Great Wall under threat of aggravated destruction.

"It calls for the attention of the whole of society to protect the Great Wall and to end the human destruction," Liu said, according to Xinhua.


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