There has been great shock in China following an investigation by the Beijing Times which revealed that 30 percent of the Great Wall has disintegrated.
As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the wall attracts a huge amount of domestic and international tourism, and the visitor numbers, along with wear and tear—parts of the wall are more than 2000 years old—have taken their toll.
The Ming Dynasty section of the wall, built 700 years ago, is in great disrepair with only eight percent of the structure being well preserved, the People’s Daily Online reports.
Findings by a survey conducted by the Great Wall of China Society cited in the Beijing Times report said that bricks engraved with Chinese characters are also being removed and sold to tourists for 30 Yuan (around $5 ) by villagers in the Northern province of Hebei.
The survey also blamed lack of maintenance, and plants growing through the bricks for affecting the structure of the wall.
“Even though some of the walls are built of bricks and stones, they cannot withstand the perennial exposure to wind and rain,” said Dong Yaohui, a vice-president of the Great Wall Society to the BT.
“Many towers are becoming increasingly shaky and may collapse in a single rain storm in summer.”
The Chinese media has been outspoken in its shock and dismay at the extent to which the wall has been allowed to deteriorate, and there is debate over what the next step should be.
Although many people believe that the wall, a UNESCO world heritage site, should be preserved, many local governments do not have the funds or resources to perform the much needed repairs.
Construction of the wall began in 3rd Century BC along the Hexi corridor, through the Gobi desert in Western China. The largest part of the wall, however was built under the Ming Dynasty between 1368 and 1644 and sections of this at tourist hot-spots at Badaling and Mutianyu have been well renovated.
The total length of the wall is thought to be between 9,000 and 21,000 kilometers, though archaeologists have recently discovered the Great Wall of China was once even longer.