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Battles and Scrapes for WMF at the Great Wall

长城随笔 wu 11711次浏览 0个评论 扫描二维码

Battles and Scrapes for WMF at the Great Wall

I first heard of World Monuments Fund in 2001 after leaving the UNESCO Beijing office somewhat disillusioned.

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I had been to see UNESCO to show them a collection of photographs that showed various kinds of damage to the Great Wall, mainly at Huanghuacheng. Developments were creeping up close to the Wall, and local farmers had claimed watchtowers as their own and placed ladders in key positions to earn a few yuan for each person who used them. One tower in particular was of special concern because the farmer had erected a permanent metal-shelter within a tower so he could be there day and night and not miss collecting a toll.

The UNESCO representative was clearly shocked at the evidence, and he confirmed that World Heritage listing requires the host nation to report any impact to listed monuments.

I explained that the site of Huanghuacheng was about the closest section of the Great Wall to Beijing, yet such problems occurred. We could only image what graver problems existed further away, in the provinces. I asked about the UNESCO World Heritage in Danger List.

“That would only antagonise the Dragon!” came the response. “But you might look into the World Monuments Fund,” he said.

World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the world’s largest and earliest private conservation organisation, and is based in New York. Every two years the WMF publishes the ‘List of the World’s Most 100 Endangered Sites’ in order to focus attention on the most tragic conservation issues around the world. 2002 would be the next listing, so I requested a brochure and application form.

Listing the Great Wall in the Beijing area as an endangered site, would I thought, help put the plight of capital’s Great Wall higher on the cultural relics protection agenda. However, for applications to be considered, they needed to supported by a local government level body.

I wasn’t very optimistic about obtaining such support, but I tried nevertheless. I had already shown the photo evidence to the Beijing Bureau for Cultural Relics, so made a return visit to introduce the concept of WMF listing. Some of my photos showed newly-built structures quite close to the Wall, which was a concern of the bureau. They agreed to support the nomination provided that the site in danger was described as ‘The Great Wall landscape, Beijing Region’. The application was submitted, and we would be informed of the outcome in October of that year.

In the meantime a group of donors to the WMF visited Beijing, principally to visit a palace in the Forbidden City where renovation of fine arts was being financed by an American donor who was born in China in the early 20th century. The Vice President of WMF, Mr Henry Ng telephoned me to ask if I could take a group of several donors as well as reporter covering their China visit, to see a section of Wild Wall. I agreed, and we drove to Huanghuacheng.

I was mainly concerned with the presence of white-tiled building that stuck out like sore thumbs just a couple of hundred metres away from the Wall. We walked along the Wall and before long reached a watchtower with a ladder at the entrance, which was about 2 meters above the height of the Wall pavement itself. The farmer manned the ladder and took a toll of 2 yuan per person for using it. We climbed up, one by one. But Mark, the reporter, was tall and strong, and said he didn’t’ want to use it — on principle. He managed to climb into the tower without touching the ladder.

Preparing to settle up, I said to the farmer “Ok, so five us, two yuan each, that’s ten yuan, here you are…” handing him a grey note.

“No, there’s six of you…”

“Yes, there are six of us, but only FIVE of us used your ladder….”

Mark reiterated in perfect Chinese the fact that he hadn’t touched the ladder.

So off we went.

I was a few steps outside the tower and I heard a bit of s scuffle from the top of the tower and sensed something flying nearby. A bird swooping perhaps?

No, a whole Great Wall! We were being attacked. A brick shattered on the pavement right beside us!

林赛讲解长城结构

Up on the top storey of the tower stood the farmer, swearing and shouting — and just about to hurl another brick. I pushed one donor out of its path as we hurried to get out of this madman’s range.

“If one of these stones hit any of us, I’ll call the police and you’ll go to prison — there’s six of us seeing what you, one person, is doing!” I shouted.

Of course logic means nothing to a madman, so we hurried off.

We had narrowly averted a disaster that would have made the front pages…..because….this group of WMF supporters had collectively donated more than 2 million dollars to conservation projects in China. And they’d been violently attacked by a farmer hurling several Great Wall bricks from the advantageous height of four metres!

The team had received a very vivid indication of the chaotic state of the Wall on Beijing’s doorstep.

No surprise that the 2002 listing did indeed include the Great Wall landscape of the Beijing Region. In fact the site was re-listed in 2004.

As journalists met me to talk about conservation issues, I would always mention this contribution, but hardly any dared to include the fact in their reports.

I’m prompted to write this story because just last weekend I was asked by a travel agency to escort another group of WMF donors to visit the Great Wall, and by sheer coincidence they would see yet another of the Wall’s many ailments right in front of their very eyes.

We visited Mutianyu, a section of tourist wall replete with surveillance cameras, guards and even a special tower where visitors are encouraged to put their graffiti.

雪中慕田峪

As I stood on the battlement, explaining the purpose of the merlons and loopholes, a suited man walked towards me and stopped a couple of meters away. I heard a rattle, and in the corner of my eye noticed him lifting what appeared to be a bunch of keys, perhaps with a small knife or nail clippers. Then he proceeded, right beside me, and many others walking the Wall, to scrape characters on one of the bricks…

雪中慕田峪1

I interrupted my explanation….and interrupted his composition.

“Hey, d’you know what this is?” I said, pointing to a brick, “and d’you know what this is?” looking all around.

He looked at me with a blank expression.

“That’s a brick of the Great Wall of China!”

“And there are regulations stipulating fines of up to 30,000 yuan for wantonly damaging the Wall.”

We came down from the Wall. We had lunch. And we got not the bus ready to drive back to Beijing.

One WMF donor sat beside me and said “D’you know what was the most impressive aspect of our visit today?”

“Of course the Wall — it looked so great in the snow!”

“No” he said, “It was you, you were brilliant and you showed us what a great advocate you are for this monument …”

我第一次听说“世界文化遗产基金会”是在2001年的一天。这一天,我怀着希望走进联合国教科文组织北京办事处,又有点惆怅地离开。

我来给这里的工作人员看一组长城遭到破坏的照片,地点主要集中在黄花城。开发商的开发项目离长城越来越近,当地农民将长城敌楼据为己用,在主要通道上搭建梯子,私收”登梯“费。更有甚者,其中一个敌楼的门被封装成“永居”之所,昼夜可以在这里“数银子”。

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教科文组织的代表显然被这些“证据”震惊了。他说,被列入世界文化遗产名录的人文和自然景观,对当地政府是有要求的。当地政府应当及时报告对这些景观任何负面影响。

我解释道,黄花城是离北京最近的长城地段,竟然出现这样的问题。我不敢想象,远离“皇帝”地区的情况会有多么的糟糕。我询问教科文组织是否有世界文化遗产濒危名录。

我得到的答复是这样的:“这样会引起巨龙(中国政府)的反感!然而,你或许从世界文化遗产基金会得到一些帮助。”

这个组织(英文缩写WMF)是世界上最大、最早成立的私人文化和文物保护组织,总部在纽约。每两年,它公布100个濒危文化遗产地,试图引起人们对其的关注和保护。2002年,就是下一个“名录”的公布期。于是,我索要了一份介绍和申请表格。

将北京周边的长城列入濒危名录,可以帮助人们对首都周边的长城加以关注。然而,这个申请需要当地政府机构的支持。

我虽然不确定是否能够获得这样的支持,但是我还是想试一试。我非常感谢北京市文物局给予了支持,将“长城(北京段)景观”列入濒危遗产名录。提交了申请之后,就等待来年10月份的公布结果。

与此同时,世界文化遗产基金会的一个捐款人团队来到北京,主要来造访故宫里的一座大殿。翻修这座宫殿的费用来自基金会的出生于上世纪二十年代的一位捐款 人。基金会副总裁亨利黄先生给我来电话,询问我是否可以带几个捐款人和记者前去一段长城参观。我立即同意,并带他们来到黄花城。

我主要考虑的是,黄花城是离北京最近段“野”长城。离这段长城只有几百米的地方盖起了现代的白色瓷砖贴面的建筑,很是扎眼的,是一种视觉污染。

我们沿着长城走,来到一座敌楼前,有一个梯子搭在甬道门口,要上去每人就得付费两元。我们一个接一个爬了上去,一个叫马克的记者又高又壮,他说他不用登梯子,就可以“攀岩”上去。

我对农民说:“好,我们五个人,每人两元,这是十元,给你……”我把钱递给他。

“不对,你们是六个人……”

“我们是六个人,但是只有五个用了你的梯子……”马克用标准的普通话说。

之后,我们就准备离开。可是我刚离开敌楼几步,就听到楼顶有动静,随后又感到从上面飞下来什么东西,是鸟俯冲下来了?

不是!是一块长城砖,向我们飞来!这会儿,那个农民正站在楼顶上大喊大叫,还准备拿起另一块砖。我赶紧把一个捐款人推到一边,避开危险。

“如果长城砖砸到我们,你就会为此蹲监狱,有我们六个人为证。”我也大喊。

当然我们无法和不讲理的人讲理。我们趁早离开,最为明智。

我们的脑袋差点遭殃,这会成为各大报刊的头版头条:世界文化遗产的捐款人,捐助中国两百万美金做保护项目,遭长城砖砸头。

世界文化遗产基金会的捐款人们亲身感受到了北京周边的长城面临的危机。无怪乎2002年长城(北京段)景观被列入濒危名录,2004年又连续两年进入名单。

当中国媒体采访我的时候,我总是提及这件事,但从来没有公开报道。

今天,我又旧事重提,这是因为两周前,一个旅游公司联系我,让我带另一组世界文化遗产基金会的捐款人上慕田峪长城。碰巧我们又一起见证了另外一个“事件”。

慕田峪安装了监视器,还有保安管理,还特别安排了一个敌楼,让游人留下他们的涂鸦。

我站在长城上的垛口边,向捐款人解释垛口和射孔的用途时,一个衣冠楚楚的游人(男士),朝我走来,停在离我几米的地方。我听到钥匙链的声响,发现他正在长城砖上刻字!

我停下我的解说,试图阻止他的“创作”。“嘿,你知道你在干什么吗?你知道这是什么?”我指着城砖。

他一脸茫然地看着我。“这是中国的万里长城砖!”我接着说:“破坏长城罚款3万元。”

我和捐款人们从长城上下来,吃过中午饭,准备乘车返回北京。一个基金会捐款人坐在我的旁边说:“你知道今天最令人印象深刻的是什么吗?“

我说:”当然是这里的长城——雪中长城的确很震撼!“

“不是”,他说:“是你,你对长城的介绍太精彩了,同时,你让我们看到这座文化遗产需要更多的保护……”

(图文均来自“林赛一家子”,本文作者:威廉·林赛,英译中:吴琪)


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