Image: The Great Wall
Greg Baker  /  AP
Chinese tourists walk on a rebuilt section of the Great Wall of China, near its western-most point, at Jiayuguan, in China's northwest Gansu province.
updated 7/9/2007 3:51:20 PM ET 2007-07-09T19:51:20

Chinese are proud a global poll has named the Great Wall a wonder of the world, but some worry that tourism and neglect are destroying the crumbling fortification designed to defend against foreign invaders.

"The Great Wall has been severely destroyed by visitors, and I am surprised that the Great Wall can still be named as one of the new seven wonders of the world," said Wang Xiaoyu, who was visiting the wall at Badaling from nearby Beijing.

Almost every brick in heavily toured sections of the wall, such as Badaling, has been carved with people's names and other graffiti.

The Great Wall was picked in a worldwide online poll as one of the new seven wonders of the world.

The other winners, announced in Lisbon, Portugal, over the weekend, are Petra in Jordan, Brazil's statue of Christ the Redeemer, Peru's Machu Picchu, Mexico's Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, the Colosseum in Rome and the Taj Mahal in India.

The man behind the poll, Bernard Weber, said he hoped it would inspire preservation efforts.

Many popular parts of the wall have been buffeted in recent years with unsightly hotels, restaurants and trinket shops. Some sections are strewn with garbage.

The wall's length has been estimated at 3,000 to 4,000 miles and it weaves through a dozen provinces and regions across northern China. Some stretches have fallen into disrepair while others were pulled down by villagers who used the bricks to build houses.

In recent years, China has stepped up efforts to restore some parts of the wall, protect it from vandals and rein in commercial development around it.

The earliest sections of the wall were built more than 20 centuries ago to guard against Mongols and other invaders. Other sections were added over the centuries.

Some guidebooks say dilapidated sections in remote areas have been discovered as recently as 2002.

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An editorial in the China Daily newspaper Monday said the wall faces environmental and man-made problems that threaten its existence.

"Now is the time to re-evaluate conservation efforts to guarantee it remains a wonder," the editorial said.

The Chinese government had no immediate reaction.

"No arrangements for celebrations have been made so far," said a man who answered the phone at the Badaling office of the Great Wall Management Office whose surname is Lu. Like many Chinese officials, he would not give his first name.

Wu Shaoyun, who was visiting the wall from Jiangxi province, hoped the new designation would translate into money.

"Being named as one of the new seven wonders of the world will help the Great Wall attract more people during the Beijing Olympic Games, which will also bring even more income for the country," he said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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