This Web site is our first try to introduce Chinese things. But the idea has been conceived long since. It first came to us years ago when we were working on a college paper aimed to see the other side of China that was in the eyes of other countries.
During the months' work, we read intensively some English materials that expressed worldwide ideas of China in the middle part of the 19th century, about Shanghai in their minds, once noted as the Eastern Paris, almost the most flashy cosmopolis embracing the world's latest technologies and trends during the early 20th century. We saw old pictures they took which were about people, constructions, and landscape. We then came to the establishment of the new China in 1949. Then to the diplomatic relations built between China and other countries, to the profound open policy in 1979. All the way to the Internet- and other-media-based reports (Thanks to the Internet, people of the world are closer than anytime in history.), which were suddenly becoming mass and all-around near the end of the 20th century. The reading confronted us with that how ideas can be different based on different cultural backgrounds. This triggered our thought of making a Web site that would introduce our own things.
Well, there is many a topic when it comes to Chinese things. But we'd like to take the Great Wall as our first step for several reasons.
* The Great Wall is a household name. It receives the most on-line searches among all Chinese things.
* The Great Wall is the most visited spot of overseas travelers.
* The Great Wall is the witness of Chinese history. During more than its 2,000 years, it was built, rebuilt, torn down and renovated for military purpose by more than 20 dynasties and states. It reflects both China's home situations and its touches with the outer world. It was so big a project that building it influenced the domestic economy.
* The Great Wall is cultural product. It mixed minds in war and architecture. It formed a defense tradition that was handed down to people more than 2,000 years after. As a tradition, it was embodiment of how the Chinese dealt with other peoples, including its enemies.
* Being both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a UNESCO Site endangered, the Great Wall is suffering greatly from pollution, damage and over tourism. Having gone through the ebb and flow of dynasties, the Great Wall is struggling bitterly, in this peaceful time.
* When the Great Wall becomes popular spots where cars, motorcycles and skateboards clear, and international parties, concerts and marathons take place, when the saying "if you haven't climbed the Great Wall, you are not a real man" prevails, some basic facts are less known, such as how long is the Great Wall and how many Great Walls appeared in history.
The college task also impressed us that when western people try to understand their oriental neighbors, their ideas towards the later generally smack of some mist and mystery. This could arise from both the lack of knowing enough truth and the real difference between cultures. Generally, the western are more idea-strong than the eastern. While the eastern try to keep the harmony of a thing, the western correct the pitfalls and look for the breakthrough. That's why the eastern think that the western are bold and the western think it mysterious and impractical of "the one" philosophy reflected in many aspects of the eastern. But the real understanding eliminates anything mysterious, and you simply know how it has been formed reasonably for its system. So to get people out of their existing mystery towards Chinese things, that's what we wish this Web site and other scheduled ones to do. (Isn't it funny that the Chinese films recent years catering to the western taste nearly all keep a similar idiosyncrasy in lines short but meaningful like archaic Chinese, and in kung fu aloft like dance? If it's some style that has well captured the audience for its great render on mystery and incredibility (suspension of disbelief?), it has, however, never been like that in real life.)
And ideas can be two-edged things. On the one hand they make individuals and make them creative, and on the other too strong ideas may block the viewers from knowing further and lead to certain bias. Besides, ideas determine the depth, but ideas alone make people sharp to others. So we believe that ideas are better to be mild and go after truth. That's what we hope people on the Internet are. And we will mix a substantial Web site with soft ideas.
The Great Wall Web site is just our tentative. If it goes well, we will fill out the contents further since the Great Wall is a far-reaching theme. We will also do a series of Web sites (China Tibet) to incorporate other Chinese things.