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Friday, September 23, 2016, 18:03

Probe into controversial Great Wall restoration starts

By Xinhua

Probe into controversial Great Wall restoration starts
This picture taken on Sept 21, 2016 shows a villager standing on a paved-over section of the Great Wall of China at Suizhong, in China's northeast Liaoning province. (STR / AFP)
SHENYANG - Authorities in northeast China's Liaoning Province on Friday began investigating a controversial restoration work on the Great Wall that left a section of the famous landmark nearly unrecognizable.

Pictures of the paved-over stretch triggered widespread criticism, with many complaining the wall's historical quality was ruined by its new road-like appearance.

Sometimes called the "most beautiful wild Great Wall" by Chinese tourists, the section in Suizhong County boasts a history of more than 600 years. It stretches some nine kilometers and underwent reparation efforts from 2013 to 2014.

Microblogger "shenxinghuanjin" posted on Sina Weibo: "Leave it alone if you do not know how to restore it the right way. It is better to let it be eroded by time than destroyed by dishonorable people."

County cultural authorities told local media earlier this month that the restoration was approved by provincial and national departments and the whole project was both "legal and sensible."

On order from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, an investigation team from the Liaoning provincial cultural heritage bureau arrived at Suizhong on Thursday, and the investigation into the restored section began Friday.

According to a notice published by the administration on its official website, the repair plan for the wall section was approved by the administration in 2012.

Responding to doubts from the media and public, the administration is evaluating the project and its effects, and the results will be publicized in time.

If problems in construction management or project quality are discovered, relevant departments or people will be punished according to the law, the administration said.

The Great Wall was built between the 3rd century BC and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The existing sections mostly date from the Ming era, with the Ming wall measuring more than 8,800 kilometers.

In 2006, a regulation on Great Wall protection was released, but the sheer size of the structure has posed a challenge to enforcement. Statistics show that less than 10 percent of the wall is considered well-preserved, while about 30 percent has disappeared.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage launched a Great Wall law enforcement supervision campaign on Sept. 20. Inspection teams will be sent to 15 provincial-level regions along the wall.

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