Construction of Great Wall cultural parks proposed to preserve national icon
Wonder of the world
Published: Mar 08, 2023 11:13 PM
Great Wall of Badaling in Yanqing District, Beijing Photo: VCG

Great Wall of Badaling in Yanqing District, Beijing Photo: VCG

Built by human hands over the course of more than 2,000 years, the Great Wall of China stretches for more than 20,000 kilometers across the vast lands of northern China's 15 provinces and autonomous regions. 

As an iconic symbol of the nation, it not only stands as an enduring monument to the power of Chinese civilization, but also ranks as one of the top wonders of the world as a universally acclaimed feat of human engineering.

To improve China's national image and better preserve this national wonder, a plan to establish areas around the Great Wall as national cultural parks kicked off in 2021. 

Since it was announced, the plan, scheduled to come to completion in 2035, has caught the attention of the public. During the two sessions, some political advisors who see the plan as a great cultural project to help Chinese culture flourish introduced proposals to promote the construction of the national parks.

"The Great Wall national cultural parks will not only improve conservation efforts but can also bring this top wonder of the world closer to people's lives and allow them to share in the precious achievements of Chinese civilization," Tian Lin, a professor at Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Issues of concern

Representatives of the China Zhi Gong Party have put forward a proposal which is aimed at promoting the construction of Great Wall national cultural parks at the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The proposal says that the remains of the Great Wall from dynasties such as the Qin (221BC-206BC) and Ming (1368-1644) are scattered in 404 counties across 15 provinces and autonomous regions across the country. 

Due to the sheer size of the wall, integrated management methods have yet to be put into place, which could lead to conservation resources being unevenly distributed across different sections of the Great Wall. 

The China Zhi Gong Party, mainly composed of returned overseas Chinese and their relatives, and representatives of people with overseas connections, is concerned that conservation and promotion of the cultural heritages along the Great Wall are still inadequate. 

The China Zhi Gong Party has also pointed out that natural conditions also pose a challenge to construction of these parks. According to data, more than 80 percent of areas around the Great Wall are "wild" areas. 

These sections are unattended, and some are seriously damaged and are not suitable locations at present for a national cultural park.

To solve these issues, the proposal recommends that management of the parks should break through the traditional barriers between departments in different regions and establish an effective transregional cooperative system that can ensure the standards published by the central government are met during construction.

The tourism resources surrounding the Great Wall should also be coordinated to benefit tourists. The party called for an increase in national financial support for the construction of Great Wall parks.

Other political advisors such as Han Ziyong, curator of the China Art and Craft Museum and also member of the 14th CPPCC National Committee, have also put forward proposals. Han is calling for footpaths to be built around the Great Wall to better distribute tourism resources. 

Constant improvement

These footpaths should be incorporated into the national cultural parks and regions where the scenic areas of the Great Wall have not been developed should be priorities for construction.

Progress has been made recently when it comes to construction of the parks. A project aimed at restoring the Huangyaguan section of the Great Wall administrated by Tianjin municipality has been completed and seven other key projects are set to be completed by the end of 2023.

The Huangyaguan project is also constructing a comprehensive Great Wall museum, which will provide cultural services such as digital exhibitions to tourists.

In order to fully demonstrate the unique cultural value of the Great Wall, the park construction project plans to complete construction of the Great Wall parks with three stages, and establish a well-rounded system for their preservation and utilization by 2035.

Regarding the overall layout of the parks, local conditions will be taken into consideration, including geographic layout, historical and scientific significance and tourism value.

Structurally, the parks will be comprised of four major sections dedicated to conservation, exhibitions, utilization and culture and tourism. Major steps toward completing the plan include implementing hallmark projects in cultural heritage preservation and research, improving surrounding local environments, integrating culture and tourism, and establishing digital services, according to media reports.