Chinas Great Wall Is Slowly Disappearing

Around 30 percent of China's Ming-era Great Wall has disappeared over time the UNESCO World Heritage site, state media reported. Natural erosion, human destruction and a lack of protection means that a total of 1,220 miles of the wall, which dates back more than 2000 years, has vanished.

Poor villagers in Lulong county in the northern province of Hebei have reportedly stolen bricks from the wall in order to build settlements. The locals would knock thick grey bricks from a section of wall in their village to build homes and slabs engraved with Chinese characters were sold for 30 yuan or £3.00 despite laws prohibiting the dismantling of any part of the wall.

Only eight percent of the Great Wall built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the largest section and best known section of the Wall, is considered "well-preserved," according to a survey by the China Great Wall Society. "Even though some of the walls are built of bricks and stones, they cannot withstand the perennial exposure to wind and rain," the paper quoted Dong Yaohui, a vice president of the society, as saying. "Many towers are becoming increasingly shaky and may collapse in a single rain storm in summer."

The World Monument Fund based in New York announced in 2003 that the Great Wall was among the 100 most endangered historic sites. Local governments reportedly only focus on repairing the sections of the Great Wall that attract the most visitors, leaving the less popular parts of the wall to crumble.

..... Devashree Goenka