Repair, archaeological work to start in challenging section of Great Wall
Published: Jan 12, 2024 01:22 AM
Aerial photo taken on July 10, 2022 shows the scenery of the Jiankou Great Wall in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Chen Yehua)

Aerial photo taken on July 10, 2022 shows the scenery of the Jiankou Great Wall in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Chen Yehua)

Beijing authorities are set to proceed with repair and archaeological work on one of the most perilous sections of the Great Wall starting from April this year, the Huairou district authority of Beijing has announced.

Known as the Jiankou Great Wall and constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), this segment has undergone multiple renovations in the past. In 2006, the cultural heritage department implemented emergency reinforcements to address the threat of collapse at the Jiankou Great Wall. And since 2016, the National Cultural Heritage Administration has approved four phases of restoration projects for the Jiankou Great Wall.

Zhang Tong, director of the Huairou District Cultural Heritage Management Office, revealed that the scope of the fifth phase of the Jiankou Great Wall restoration covers six watchtowers and the connecting walls, spanning a length of 915 meters.

The Jiankou (meaning “arrow buckle”) Great Wall segment has a distinctive “W” shape, resembling a taut bow, hence its name. Due to prolonged exposure to harsh weather conditions and human-induced damage, the Jiankou Great Wall has suffered severe deterioration, leading to safety concerns in various areas.

The restoration of this section of the Great Wall has long been known for its challenges, given its steep and difficult terrain. Beijing historian Zeng Qiang told the Global Times, “The elevation of the wall gradually rises from west to east, with the location situated on a steep slope.” 

“Choosing to start repairs in April is also largely due to water supply considerations,” Zeng added.

Public records indicate that the project site for the Jiankou Great Wall is in an area severely lacking in water resources. Cheng Yongmao, the principal figure overseeing the section’s restoration, told the Beijing Youth Daily that nearly 4,000 meters of pipelines were laid, and water has been sourced from a 300-meter-deep well in a rural area to ensure an adequate water supply for construction.

Currently undergoing restoration, the Jiankou Great Wall has not been developed for tourism, yet it continues to attract visitors entering without authorization. Incidents of injuries to visitors have raised public awareness, with four climbing-related incidents being reported within a one-month period in October 2018.

Since the year 2000, Beijing has undertaken nearly a hundred Great Wall protection projects, with Jiankou Great Wall representing a flagship demonstration project. In 2019, the Beijing Great Wall Cultural Belt Protection and Development Plan (2018-2035) was announced, indicating a further intensification of efforts to conserve and restore the Great Wall in Beijing.

To further raise public awareness of Great Wall conservation, a specialized team of experts will be assembled for the fifth phase of restoration.

In addition to the Jiankou Great Wall restoration project, Huairou District plans to undertake repairs on a section of the Mutianyu Great Wall from Watchtower 95 to Watchtower 103 and the connecting walls, with completion scheduled for October 2024.