NEW YORK -- Tourism has taken a toll on China's Great Wall, but
then so have a number of other factors, including animals, local
farmers, construction and Mother Nature.
Beginning in the 1990s, the depredations of tourism -- graffiti,
fumes from vehicles and trash on the landscape -- reflected a huge
growth in domestic tourism, as more Chinese could afford to visit
their national attractions and as more began driving cars to those
William Lindesay, founder of the International Friends of the
Great Wall, painted that rather-dark portrait of his favorite place
during a presentation at New York's Explorers Club, sponsored by
the World Monuments Fund.
However, Lindesay had some good news, too: The government in the
Beijing principality (about the size of New Jersey and home to 390
miles of the 4,154-mile wall) supported his campaign to get the
wall on the World Monuments Fund's list of the world's 100
It was listed beginning in 2002, and, as a result, China is
better able to attract overseas funding to restore, maintain and
protect this piece of its history, Lindesay said. Although a total
reconstruction is not envisioned, he said it would cost about $155
billion to rebuild the entire wall.
In addition, he said, the Beijing principality implemented the
first-ever laws to protect the wall last summer.
There is now a buffer of about a third-of-a-mile on either side
of the wall where no "artificial construction" is allowed;
construction rights are restricted up to about 1.9 miles on either
This is quite a turnaround, he said, from the days when Mao
Tse-tung urged local farmers to "use ancient materials to serve the
His successor, Deng Xiao-ping, recognized the folly of that; he
called on Chinese to stop destroying the wall, Lindesay said, and
sought foreign aid to repair and protect parts of the wall for
Lindesay, a British citizen living in Beijing, said his
organization (online at www.friendsofgreatwall.org) undertakes basic
projects such as donating bins so visitors have a place to discard
their trash, installing signage spelling out a code of conduct and
calling on visitors to observe the code to protect the wall.
You can reach the journalist who wrote this article at [email protected].