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For more on the Great Wall renovation project, we have our reporter Ai Yang in the studio. Good evening to you Ai Yang.

Q1. The Hefangkou Great Wall certainly looks very different, compared to tourist spots like Badaling, and Mutianyu. How are things progressing and when is the renovation expected to be completed?

A. You’re right James. This section of the Great Wall in Huairou district is in dire need of repair. From a distance, when you look at the entire 3,500 meter stretch of the section, it looks magnificent. But when you arrive at the foot of the wall, you get a better idea of its true condition. At some parts of the Hefangkou section, the walls have collapsed, and the rocks are pretty loose. This is due to human, as well as natural activities. The expert I talked to told me that, during the 60s and 70s, when China was going through a rough period and resources were very scarce, many villagers living nearby climbed onto the hills, and took away some of the loosened bricks. They used them as building material for their own homes. But from now on the Hefangkou Great Wall will be a lot better taken care of. The renovation project is largest to have ever been undertaken in Beijing. It covers a stretch of wall over 3 thousand meters in length, as well as 25 watchtowers. The budget is more than 40 million yuan, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of next year. James.

Q2. Is this going to be about cosmetic alterations to the wall’s exterior, or are parts of the wall going to be entirely rebuilt?

This is also a concern of many historians and scholars. The purpose of this project is to retain the Hefangkou Great Wall’s original appearance so far as possible. The engineers told me they’ll be strengthening the main body of the structure. As for whether its going to be entirely rebuilt, I was told that the focus was going to be chiefly on the external appearance of the wall. As the project develops, and the underlying structure of the old wall becomes clearer, they’ll adjust their plans to accommodate it. But it’s unlikely that many of the newly built elements will be very visible. And just before I finish, I’d also like to add, that over the years, there’s been a lot of debate about these kinds of renovation projects. For example, some people argue that the repair work is usually very costly, and without careful management, worker’s safety can be at risk too. Despite these concerns, this is a very high profile project and many are eager to see this historical site restored. I guess we’ll just have to see how it looks in 12 months time.

(Source: English CNTV Auguest 27, 2011)