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China's wealthy building 'great walls' for safety

Last updated on: February 1, 2011 16:07 IST

China's wealthy building 'great walls' for safety

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The legacy of China's Great Wall, built in the 5th century to prevent intrusions from nomads, has become an inspiration for the country's new rich, who now are building similar structures around their wealthy enclaves to ensure safety and to prevent thefts.

Wealthy villagers in Taizhou of East China's Zhejiang province have built a huge wall around their village to ensure their safety, making the enclave free from thieves, reflecting the concerns of new rich in the fast liberalising Communist China.

"The residents in Aodi village urged us to find a solution to the increasing number of thefts, so we decided to build a village wall to cut the number of entrances from 10 to one," Ruan Guolin, chief of Kengzheng village, which administers three smaller villages including Aodi, told official China Daily today.

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Image: A Chinese flag flies in front of the Great Wall of China, located north of Beijing.
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters
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The 70-cm thick wall was built in a style similar to the Great Wall, with more than 70,000 adobe bricks and a 7-meter-tall iron gate.

The construction of the wall cost about 500,000 yuan (USD 75,700), 70 per cent of which was raised from the villagers.

The gate, opens to the public during the day, and gets closed after 10 pm when only IC card holders can swipe their cards to get in.

"Each family has two entrance cards, and a security office by the entrance is open 24 hours to offer emergency assistance," Ruan said.

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China's wealthy building 'great walls' for safety

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The Aodi village, with a population of about 270 residents who have gotten much wealthier due to the opening up of the area and the building of dozens of factories.

By the end of last year, the average annual income of 76 families exceeded 20,000 yuan,(USD 3000) while 60 per cent of them had built private villas and 40 per cent owned cars.

"Thefts occurred extremely frequently as people are richer and have more expensive furniture, electric equipment and even more cash at home," Ruan said adding that since the launch of the village wall, there have been no cases of theft in the village.

"The wall is very useful in preventing thefts, and everyone now feels safe to celebrate the coming Spring Festival in the village," he said.

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Image: Spring Festival Temple Fair in Beijing.
Photographs: Christina Hu/Reuters
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However, a hot debate among netizens and experts has been ignited. "It's quite ridiculous to lock the villagers up for their protection during the night, which seems to draw more attention to the fact that valuable properties are inside," freelance columnist Wan Xiaoyang said in his blog.

Such behaviour occurred very often in ancient China when people built walls to prevent wars and danger.

"I believe it is a way to ease the thefts but not the appropriate method to ensure social security. Awareness of self-protection should be raised among local villagers," Liu Xiaobing, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics said.

 


Image: A view of villas built for residents in the Huaxi village of Jiangyin, Jiangsu province.
Photographs: Sean Yon/Reuters
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