A project aimed at protecting the remains of the Great Wall and enhancing the study of the world's largest man-made structure in Inner Mongolia has kicked off.
Carried out by a non-governmental organization named The Great Wall Culture Research Center of Inner Mongolia, the project will cover a wide range of issues.
To many tourists from China and abroad, the Great Wall is a must-see when visiting Beijing, especially after it was included on the World Cultural Heritage list in 1987. However, few people realize that one third of this massive structure's 6,000 kilometers is located in Inner Mongolia, giving the autonomous region a huge responsibility.
"The Great Wall in Inner Mongolia boasts the longest history and length in the whole country, and spans the most dynasties, from Spring and Autumn Period, over 2,000 years ago, to the last two feudal dynasties of the Ming and the Qing," said Li Yongsheng, Director of The Great Wall Culture Research Center of Inner Mongolia.
However, the present situation of Great Wall protection in Inner Mongolia is by no means optimistic, partly due to the huge area it covers, and partly due to the lack of public awareness toward the protection tasks.
According to Li, most protection tasks are currently carried out by NGOs like his Research Center. Even some government officials don't realize the importance of the protection, not to mention the common public. That's why their project is focusing on raising public awareness on the issue. Besides, there are several basic tasks for them to carry out.
"Firstly, we will carry out an investigation on the basic information of the Great Wall in Inner Mongolia. Then we will collect and compile the documents and historical records about the Wall. Moreover, we will complete a map of the structure which will clearly mark the appropriate location of its various parts. A museum, magazine and website are also in our plan."
Li said in 2005 his institution will organize an international forum on the protection of the Great Wall, in which experts and scholars from all over the world will be invited to discuss issues surrounding protection of the historical treasure.
The Great Wall, which stretches across 16 cities, provinces and autonomous regions in north China, was constructed over 2,000 years. According to findings released from a survey carried out in 2002, among the 500 year-old Ming Dynasty portion of the wall, which totals a length of 2,500 kilometers, only one fifth is well kept.