Tourism threatens Great Wall of China
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese are proud a global poll has named the Great Wall a wonder of the world, but some worry that tourism and neglect are destroying the crumbling fortification designed to defend against foreign invaders.
"The Great Wall has been severely destroyed by visitors, and I am surprised that the Great Wall can still be named as one of the new seven wonders of the world," said Wang Xiaoyu, who was visiting the wall at Badaling from nearby Beijing.
Almost every brick in heavily touristed sections of the wall, such as Badaling, has been carved with people's names and other graffiti.
The Great Wall was picked in a worldwide online poll as one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Many popular parts of the wall have been buffeted in recent years with unsightly hotels, restaurants and trinket shops. Some sections are strewn with garbage.
The wall's length has been estimated at 3,000 to 4,000 miles and it weaves through a dozen provinces and regions across northern China. Some stretches have fallen into disrepair while others were pulled down by villagers who used the bricks to build houses.
In recent years, China has stepped up efforts to restore some parts of the wall, protect it from vandals and rein in commercial development around it.
The earliest sections of the wall were built more than 20 centuries ago to guard against Mongols and other invaders. Other sections were added over the centuries.
Some guidebooks say dilapidated sections in remote areas have been discovered as recently as 2002.
An editorial in the China Daily newspaper Monday said the wall faces environmental and man-made problems that threaten its existence.
"Now is the time to re-evaluate conservation efforts to guarantee it remains a wonder," the editorial said.