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V Section of the Great Wall

16 November 2006

In the beginning, there were walls, but not the Great Wall. The walls were initially built by the three warring states - Yan, Zhao and Qin - as their defensive fortifications. It is only after the unification of China, that the First Emperor Qin had the walls joined together in order to fend off the invasions from the Huns.

Stretching from east to west of China across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, it is the largest man-made structure in the world and the longest wall ever built on the planet. A technological wonder and architectural marvel, it blends into the natural setting in a majestic manner and on a massive scale.

Crowned a chain of the undulating hills, the Great Wall looks like a giant dragon with neither its head nor its tail to be seen. In a way, it is the historical sequence of China being manifested in a physical form: at some points it has soared so high almost touching the sky; while in other sections it would sink deeply into the shadowing bottom of the valley. It is never a smooth run. But, it is successive.

And that is precisely the temperament of the Chinese civilisation.

With this in mind, when you travel eastwards from Miyun county town (密云县城) to arrive at a small village called Quanshuihe Cun (泉水河村) in the valley of Mt. Blue Dragon (青龙山), you can positively say that you’ve been near the lowest point in Chinese history. A narrow trail from there will lead you to a one-metre wide gap, and once you squeeze past the gap, you’ll find you’ve already on the Great Wall – that’s right, without climbing a step.

Qiangzi Pass leading to the V section on the Great Wall

It is there the Ming soldiers fought bloody battles against Manchu invaders. The Ming lost, so did nearly everything that it represented.

But not for long. When you look left and right, you’ll know why: beyond this point, the sections at the both sides rise up to reach a lofty height in the sky.

And that is why the Chinese people hold the Great Wall in high esteem and incorporate it into the national anthem, for it symbolising China's backbone, unfolding its past and foreshadowing its future.

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