Korea-China History Awareness

The Scope of the Great Wall of China

    ▶ Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Great Wall reached the Taedong River.
    ▶ Chinese literature and artifacts clearly indicate that the Great Wall only reached the Liao River.

▲ The Great Wall of China illustrated in a Chinese textbookThe Wall is falsely represented to extend into Gojoseon.

China claims that the Great Wall, ordered by Emperor Qin Shi Huang who unified China's kingdoms during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, extended through North Korea's Chongchon River and reached up to the Taedong River estuary. Therefore, Chinese history textbooks and maps depict the Great Wall as reaching the Taedong River.

This claim is in line with other claims that Gojoseon history is a part of Chinese history and reduces the Gojoseon region in a clear distortion of history.

Historical records from Records of the Grand Historian, the most reliable source regarding Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Great Wall, indicates that the eastern end of the Wall reached the Liaodong Peninsula. Furthermore, Sagijeongi states, "Liaodong Province is located to the east of Liao River, and Emperor Qin Shi Huang built a great wall to the Liao River." This record indicates that the Great Wall did not extend past the Liao River in actuality. Notably, ruins of the Great Wall can be found in the Fuxin region to the west of the Liao River, but not to the east. Although China claims that the wall near Taeryong River (North Korea) was constructed by the Yan and Qin states, recent research has discovered that the wall was in fact built in the Goryeo era. Therefore, Chinese textbooks that depict the Great Wall of China in the northwestern region of the Korean Peninsula must be revised.


The Great Wall of China's Extension


On June 5, 2012, China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage announced that the total length of the Great Wall of China is 21,196.18 km (13,171 mi). The Great Wall and its ruins span from the Heilongjiang Province in the east to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the west. The ruins include the walls, trenches, annexes, forts, and other related facilities for a total of 43,721 unique sites. This announcement was a result of the Great Wall Protection Project supervised by China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage and State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping.

▶ The Great Wall of China seen from Shanhaiguan

The announcement caused great controversy as they deviated significantly from the statistics previously known regarding the Great Wall of China. At the time, the UNESCO website defined the Great Wall of China as a military structure that ranged 6,000 km in length from Shanhaiguan in Hebei Province, to Jiayuguan in Gansu Province. The Great Wall of China is literally "Ten-Thousand Ri Wall" in Chinese, ri (or li) being a unit of distance measurement that is approximately 500 meters by modern standards. Thus, the 6,000 km mentioned on the UNESCO website equates to roughly 10,000 ri.
However, China's announcement increased the distance of the Wall by approximately 40,000 ri, which was significantly different from conventional wisdom. Perhaps this is why China decided to change the name from the original Great Wall of China to the Greatest Wall in History. More importantly, controversy surrounding the Greatest Wall in History was further amplified, because the Wall included all castles built by Han Chinese and other pre-modern nations in Northeast Asia.
Particularly for Korea, numerous castles built by Koguryo and Balhae in the once-dominated regions of Manchuria were included in the Wall, changing Korean history to Chinese history overnight. From the information currently available, the Koguryo-built earthen wall in Laobian, Jilin Province and Balhae-built sidewall in Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang Province are included in the Greatest Wall in History. According to historical records, the Koguryo Cheolli Jangseong (literally "Thousand Ri Wall") was built to counter invasions from the Tang dynasty. Ironically, the Koguryo wall that was once built to defend against the Tang dynasty had suddenly become a Tang dynasty wall. Needless to say, China's Greatest Wall in History completely ignores historical facts and the unique nature of the ruins.
How exactly did the Greatest Wall in History come to pass? The reason may lie in how the Chinese media are continuing to use the name Great Wall of China rather than the Greatest Wall in History after the announcement by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage. The Great Wall of China, a symbol of the country and great source of pride, had been overhauled as a symbol of nationalist China. This ploy seems to be an attempt to legitimize China's newfound stance that the northern region, home to the Great Wall of China, was originally China's territory. In other words, the world cultural heritage Great Wall of China had changed to coincide with the Unified Multi-Ethnic Country theory.
Although the Great Wall Protection Project may not be synonymous with the Northeast Project, it's clearly a reflection of the Unified Multi-Ethnic Country theory. In this sense, one can argue that the Northeast Project is still very much ongoing.


Great Wall Protection Project (2005 - 2014)


The purpose of the Great Wall Protection Project was to prevent further deterioration of the Great Wall of China, standardize its use, and conduct accurate research for a proper determination on the usage for its remaining resources. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping oversee the project. However, the fact that the project's scope exceeded merely protecting historical ruins was confirmed when the length of the Ming Great Wall was revised in 2009. The name Greatest Wall in History has been put forth under the guise of protecting cultural relics, but the intent to use the Great Wall as a symbol of nationalist China is apparent.


Unified Multi-Ethnic Country theory


▼ The Hushan Great Wall is claimed by China as the eastern end of the Ming Great Wall.The long walls were restored with bricks that are reminiscent of the Great Wall of China, conveying the sense that the wall existed in its current form when originally built.

China is a multi-ethnic nation consisting of Han Chinese and 55 other ethnic groups. Although Han Chinese are the absolute majority, the 55 minority ethnic groups are strategically important irrespective of size. Because the minority ethnic groups are dispersed over massive distances, one of the Chinese government's tasks consists of deterring these minority groups' tendencies to separate. Thus, China introduced a new ideology, the Unified Multi-Ethnic Country. Nationalist China insists that this is not a new idea, but rather that this entity formed naturally through historical experience beginning as far back as distant prehistoric times.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang was the king of the state of Qin who conquered and unified all other kingdoms during the Warring States period to became China's very first emperor. He reigned from 246 to 210 BCE.
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Records of the Grand Historian,
A comprehensive history of ancient China credited to royal historian Sima Qian that spans a 2600-year period from the age of the legendary Yellow Emperor to the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (104 - 101 BCE).
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State Administration of Cultural Heritage
Administrative agency subordinate to the Ministry of Culture in the People's Republic of China. Manages various projects related to museums and cultural assets.
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State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping
Administration subordinate to the Ministry of Land and Resources and responsible for survey projects within China.
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