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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July, 2003, 08:08 GMT 09:08 UK
China imposes Great Wall ban
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC Beijing correspondent

China says it is closing off vast sections of the Great Wall to tourists and ramblers alike in an effort to protect the ancient monument from the ravages of time and trampling.

From 1 August, tourists will be restricted to areas of the wall that are restored and officially designated as tourist sites.

Those who stray off the beaten track could face fines.

Most of the Great Wall of China is not as it appears on the television adverts and postcards.

A battered section of the Great Wall of China, at Jinshanling, north-east of Beijing
Much of the wall is a crumbling mess
Far from it. Most of the wall is in fact in a terrible state of repair.

It is overgrown, worn down by the elements and assaulted by locals who steal its stone.

In the last few years it has begun to be trampled too by hoards of hikers looking for a unique Great Wall experience.

Well, not any more, or so says the Chinese Government.

From this weekend only officially restored bits of the wall can be visited. The rest is off limits.

The trouble is the restored bits of the wall are expensive and already overrun by vast numbers of tourists. Locals are already howling in protest.

But perhaps they need not worry too much.

With nearly 3,000 kilometres of wall to choose from - most of it in remote, sparsely populated mountains - it is hard to see how local authorities are going to enforce their new ban.

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22 Feb 01  |  Asia-Pacific
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19 Feb 00  |  Asia-Pacific

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