Thu, Oct 26, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Beijing readies legislation to protect the Great Wall

AFP , BEIJING

Fines as high as US$63,000 will be imposed for damaging China's famous Great Wall under the central government's first set of uniform laws issued this week to preserve the ancient structure.

The new regulations, posted on the central government's Web site, ban seven activities along the Great Wall that include defacing and building unauthorized structures on it.

Digging out soil or bricks, planting trees, carving names and organizing activities on sections of the wall not open to tourists were also banned, according to the rules that take effect on Dec. 1.

State press reports said yesterday the rules would restrict the growing numbers of parties and "all night musical raves" on parts of the wall not opened to tourists.

Individuals who break the new rules face fines of 10,000 yuan (US$1,260) to 50,000 yuan, while institutions can be fined between 50,000 yuan to 500,000 yuan, according to the state's Web site.

China currently has other rules and regulations to protect the Great Wall but these are the first to be imposed nationally and with the full authority of the government's State Council, or Cabinet, press reports said.

Parts of the Great Wall were built more than 2,000 years ago to keep foreigners out but, as a major tourist attraction, it has suffered more at the hands of modern visitors than the barbarian invaders it was meant to repel.

At the famous Badaling section of the Great Wall, about an hour's drive from Beijing, it is hard to find bricks that have not either been carved with someone's name or covered with graffiti.

In other, less well-known parts of the wall, local farmers have often nailed iron ladders into the ancient structure, permitting tourists to access sections of "wild" wall for a fee.

Less than 2,500km remain of the original 6,300km structure first built in the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206 BC).

It was rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 AD) to keep out northern tribes threatening the Chinese heartland.

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