From Wall Street to the Great Wall: How to Invest in China

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Q&A: China’s mounting great wall of debt

More filters. Sort order. Aug 31, Phil Thibodeau rated it liked it. Informative, but if you followed the recommendations since the book was published you would have lost money during a very long bull market. Most of the funds mentioned have either decreased in value or no longer exist. Ami Iida rated it it was ok Apr 27, Barry rated it liked it Mar 04, Max rated it really liked it Aug 26, Mahabubul Sujon rated it it was amazing Apr 13, No one knows just how much of the wall has already been lost.

Chinese experts estimate that more than two-thirds may have been damaged or destroyed, while the rest remains under siege. The barbarians, of course, have changed. Gone are the invading Tatars who broke through the Great Wall in , Mongols whose raids kept Sun's ancestors occupied and Manchus who poured through uncontested in Today's threats come from reckless tourists, opportunistic developers, an indifferent public and the ravages of nature. Taken together, these forces—largely byproducts of China's economic boom—imperil the wall, from its tamped-earth ramparts in the western deserts to its majestic stone fortifications spanning the forested hills north of Beijing, near Badaling, where several million tourists converge each year.

From its origins under the first emperor in the third century B. Rather, it was an overlapping maze of ramparts and towers that was unified only during frenzied Ming dynasty construction, beginning in the late s. As a defense system, the wall ultimately failed, not because of intrinsic design flaws but because of the internal weaknesses—corruption, cowardice, infighting—of various imperial regimes.

For three centuries after the Ming dynasty collapsed, Chinese intellectuals tended to view the wall as a colossal waste of lives and resources that testified less to the nation's strength than to a crippling sense of insecurity.


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In the s, Mao Zedong's Red Guards carried this disdain to revolutionary excess, destroying sections of an ancient monument perceived as a feudal relic. Nevertheless, the Great Wall has endured as a symbol of national identity, sustained in no small part by successive waves of foreigners who have celebrated its splendors—and perpetuated its myths. Among the most persistent fallacies is that it is the only man-made structure visible from space. In fact, one can make out a number of other landmarks, including the pyramids.

The wall, according to a recent Scientific American report, is visible only "from low orbit under a specific set of weather and lighting conditions. Perhaps Deng sensed that the nation he hoped to build into a superpower needed to reclaim the legacy of a China whose ingenuity had built one of the world's greatest wonders. Today, the ancient monument is caught in contemporary China's contradictions, in which a nascent impulse to preserve the past confronts a headlong rush toward the future.

Curious to observe this collision up close, I recently walked along two stretches of the Ming-era wall, separated by a thousand miles—the stone ramparts undulating through the hills near Sun's home in eastern Hebei Province and an earthen barrier that cuts across the plains of Ningxia in the west. Even along these relatively well-preserved sections, threats to the wall—whether by nature or neglect, by reckless industrial expansion or profit-hungry tour operators—pose daunting challenges. Yet a small but increasingly vocal group of cultural preservationists act as defenders of the Great Wall.

Some, like Sun, patrol its ramparts. Others have pushed the government to enact new laws and have initiated a comprehensive, ten-year GPS survey that may reveal exactly how long the Great Wall once was—and how much of it has been lost. In northwest China's Ningxia region, on a barren desert hilltop, a local shepherd, Ding Shangyi, and I gaze out at a scene of austere beauty. The ocher-colored wall below us, constructed of tamped earth instead of stone, lacks the undulations and crenelations that define the eastern sections.

How the Chinese Wall Works on Wall Street

But here, a simpler wall curves along the western flank of the Helan Mountains, extending across a rocky moonscape to the far horizon. For the Ming dynasty, this was the frontier, the end of the world—and it still feels that way. Ding, 52, lives alone in the shadow of the wall near Sanguankou Pass. He corrals his sheep at night in a pen that abuts the foot-tall barrier. Centuries of erosion have rounded the wall's edges and pockmarked its sides, making it seem less a monumental achievement than a kind of giant sponge laid across gravelly terrain.

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Although Ding has no idea of the wall's age—"a hundred years old," Ding guesses, off by about three and a half centuries—he reckons correctly that it was meant to "repel the Mongols. From our hilltop, Ding and I can make out the remnants of a foot-high tower on the flats below Sanguankou.

Relying on observation sites like this one, soldiers transmitted signals from the front lines back to the military command. Employing smoke by day and fire at night, they could send messages down the line at a rate of miles per day—or about 26 miles per hour, faster than a man on horseback. According to Cheng Dalin, a year-old photographer and a leading authority on the wall, the signals also conveyed the degree of threat: an incursion of men required one lighted beacon and a round of cannon fire, he says, while 5, men merited five plumes of smoke and five cannon shots.

The tallest, straightest columns of smoke were produced by wolf dung, which explains why, even today, the outbreak of war is described in literary Chinese as "a rash of wolf smoke across the land. Nowhere are threats to the wall more evident than in Ningxia. The most relentless enemy is desertification—a scourge that began with construction of the Great Wall itself. Imperial policy decreed that grass and trees be torched within 60 miles of the wall, depriving enemies of the element of surprise.

Inside the wall, the cleared land was used for crops to sustain soldiers. By the middle of the Ming dynasty, 2. The result? Today, with the added pressures of global warming, overgrazing and unwise agricultural policies, China's northern desert is expanding at an alarming rate, devouring approximately one million acres of grassland annually.

The Great Wall stands in its path. Shifting sands may occasionally expose a long-buried section—as happened in Ningxia in —but for the most part, they do far more harm than good. Rising dunes swallow entire stretches of wall; fierce desert winds shear off its top and sides like a sandblaster. Here, along the flanks of the Helan Mountains, water, ironically enough, is the greatest threat. Flash floods run off denuded highlands, gouging out the wall's base and causing upper levels to teeter and collapse. At Sanguankou Pass, two large gaps have been blasted through the wall, one for a highway linking Ningxia to Inner Mongolia—the wall here marks the border—and the other for a quarry operated by a state-owned gravel company.

Trucks rumble through the breach every few minutes, picking up loads of rock destined to pave Ningxia's roads. Less than a mile away, wild horses lope along the wall, while Ding's sheep forage for roots on rocky hills. The plundering of the Great Wall, once fed by poverty, is now fueled by progress.

In the early days of the People's Republic, in the s, peasants pilfered tamped earth from the ramparts to replenish their fields, and stones to build houses. I recently visited families in the Ningxia town of Yanchi who still live in caves dug out of the wall during the Cultural Revolution of Two decades of economic growth have turned small-scale damage into major destruction. In Shizuishan, a heavily polluted industrial city along the Yellow River in northern Ningxia, the wall has collapsed because of erosion—even as the Great Wall Industrial Park thrives next door. Elsewhere in Ningxia, construction of a paper mill in Zhongwei and a petrochemical factory in Yanchi has destroyed sections of the wall.

Regulations enacted in late —focusing on protecting the Great Wall in its entirety—were intended to curb such abuses. Damaging the wall is now a criminal offense. Anyone caught bulldozing sections or conducting all-night raves on its ramparts—two of many indignities the wall has suffered—now faces fines. The laws, however, contain no provisions for extra personnel or funds.


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  4. According to Dong Yaohui, president of the China Great Wall Society, "The problem is not lack of laws, but failure to put them into practice. Enforcement is especially difficult in Ningxia, where a vast, mile-long network of walls is overseen by a cultural heritage bureau with only three employees. On a recent visit to the region, Cheng Dalin investigated several violations of the new regulations and recommended penalties against three companies that had blasted holes in the wall.

    Nothing Miraculous about It: China's Economic Growth and Great Wall of Debt

    But even if the fines were paid—and it's not clear that they were—his intervention came too late. The wall in those three areas had already been destroyed. Back on the hilltop, I ask Ding if watching the wall's slow disintegration provokes a sense of loss. He shrugs and offers me a piece of guoba, the crust of scorched rice scraped from the bottom of a pot. Unlike Sun, my guide in Hebei, Ding confesses that he has no special feeling for the wall. I never saw the three words of Haohan slope.

    I also heard that we could climb 12 slopes. But why did I lose my way on the eighth slope? I thought I had climbed the wrong way. I went down to the ropeway station, took another road and climbed again. I went back to the eighth floor. For a ticket booked online, half-price tickets for the elderly and children can also be booked online, and then go to the ticketing hall that is, the place where the cableway is lined up, just pick up the tickets directly.

    Not to the Great Wall is not a good man, this does not really regret, I take the subway way subway 8 to the Badaling Great Wall in S2 transfer, take a free pick-up train, arrive at the cable car ticket outlet, but did not listen to the guide's tricks, directly listen to the walk, the route north city from the first floor to the Eleventh floor, while taking pictures while admiring the scenery, it took about 3. The eleventh floor is very exciting, high and steep! It's a pity not to come to the end.

    Badaling Great Wall

    If I climb the Great Wall for the first time, I'd better climb the whole journey and experience it. The key is the whole high speed, which should avoid traffic jams in Beijing.


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    We buy a cable car with tickets. Adults will pay yuan. It only takes three minutes to reach the seventh floor of the north. The upper floor will reach the eighth floor of the north, which is very labor-saving, and the price is also appropriate.