Xi Story: Safeguarding the Great Wall

(Xinhua) 09:29, June 08, 2024

An aerial drone photo taken on June 1, 2024 shows the Great Wall and the Shixia Village in Yanqing District of Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Chen Zhonghao)

BEIJING, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Braving the scorching summer sun, Liu Hongyan, 44, wearing an orange vest and carrying a litter picker, treks through waist-high bushes across rugged terrain for about 20 minutes to reach her destination: a 10-km stretch of the Great Wall.

Liu and her fellow villagers in Shixia Village, located at the foot of the iconic Badaling section of the Great Wall, are among thousands of Great Wall rangers across the country dedicated to protecting this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

They pick up trash along the Great Wall and inspect bricks for cracks caused by weathering or damage from human activities.

Recently, Liu and her fellow villagers wrote to Chinese President Xi Jinping, telling what they had done to protect the Great Wall and the changes taking place in their village.

In his reply, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said he was pleased to learn about the villagers' commitment over the years to protecting the Great Wall, passing on the Great Wall culture, and leveraging its resources on their way to prosperity.

Protecting the Great Wall is a long tradition in Shixia. The baton of Great Wall protection was passed on to Liu from her 80-year-old uncle, who had devoted himself to the cause as a volunteer since four decades ago.

The Great Wall is the largest-scale existing cultural heritage in China, consisting of walls scattered across 15 provincial-level regions, with some sections dating back 2,000 years.

In China, safeguarding the Great Wall is a collective responsibility that spans from the top leadership to citizens at the grassroots level.

"When people mention China, they think of the Great Wall, and when they talk about Chinese civilization, they also think of the Great Wall," Xi once said.

It embodies the great resilience of the Chinese nation, which is united as one, like a fortress, and ceaselessly pursues self-improvement, he added.

Since assuming the Party's top office in late 2012, Xi has paid close attention to activities that celebrate and protect the cultural value of the Great Wall, and issued multiple instructions to guide the establishment of a Great Wall national cultural park.

In 2019, a plan to build the cultural park was approved at a leadership meeting chaired by Xi.

During an inspection tour to the northwestern province of Gansu in the same year, Xi visited the Jiayu Pass, the starting point of a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) section of the Great Wall.

He ascended to the rostrum of the pass to view the layout and terrain of the fortress, which underwent a major renovation in previous years. "We must salute efforts to keep our history and culture alive and strong and strive to preserve our roots for a prospering Chinese spirit," Xi said.

Over the years, new progress has been made in the conservation of the Great Wall. In Beijing, an all-encompassing system that includes regular repair, emergency reinforcement, preventive measures and daily maintenance has been established.

In addition, high-tech means, such as drones and satellite images, have played an important role in discovering damage with greater speed and accuracy.

For the Great Wall rangers, their endeavors in preserving this iconic cultural heritage also benefit them and fellow villagers.

Leveraging its resources related to Great Wall culture, Shixia Village, like many other villages nestled near the wall, has transformed into a popular destination for rural tourism with homestay and restaurants.

In his letter to villagers in Shixia, Xi expressed the hope that they will continue to protect the Great Wall with the same dedication as they protect their own homes. He emphasized the importance of passing on this precious heritage to future generations.

"We will double down on our efforts to protect the Great Wall, promote its culture and better tell its captivating story as required by General Secretary Xi," said Liu, the villager.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Wu Chaolan)


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