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Across China: Guarding the Great Wall home
Last Updated: 2017-02-17 09:01 | Xinhua
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Yang Guoxing, a farmer in northwest China, has lived in Great Wall all his life.

In? How can someone live in the Great Wall?

Yang's father grew up in a tiny village in Tongxin County, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. When he married his wife in 1950, he carried her over the threshold of a cave house that had dug out from under a section of the Great Wall pass. Cave houses, which are usually carved out of a hillside, can be found across the northwest of China.

Unexpectedly the destructive behavior led to better preservation of that part of the ancient structure, as the section of the Great Wall enclosed by the family's courtyard was kept intact while the bricks from the walls around the home were mostly taken by villagers to sell or build houses.

The Great Wall pass was built in 1577 during the Ming Dynasty.

Entering the courtyard, coming into view is the arch door of the cave home in the well-preserved grey wall. On the left is the barbican entrance of a fortress with lush wild grass below it..

Yang Guoxing was born in this house in 1974. He is the ninth of the family's ten children.

He recalled that in the 1980s, many villagers sold bricks they had taken from the Great Wall. One brick could be sold for 0.5 yuan. (about 7 U.S. cents)

Although under great pressure to raise the family, Yang's father, who was working at the township grain depot, did not sell any bricks from their courtyard.

"He always told us that we should protect our home, and never let others steal our bricks," Yang said, his father died in 1999.

Gradually, Yang's determination turned into a passion to protect the Great Wall. He has searched for information in books and online to better understand the history of the Great Wall pass where his father set up home.

"Some tourists ask to visit our home, I am happy to show them around and answer their questions when I'm at home," he said.

Most of the time, Yang is working as a migrant worker in the cities. His wife and children, together with his mother, live in the cave home.

In 2014, Yang and his siblings built a three-room brick house some 100 meters away from their cave house.

Though moved out, the family still look after their Great Wall house.

"I will always protect that part of the Great Wall and try my best to maintain its original appearance," he said, adding that the Great Wall section is in dire need of restoration.

Gu Yongcun, head of Tongxin County bureau of cultural relics, said the family's dwelling in the Great Wall did help maintain the original style of the site.

Living inside the Great Wall is against modern laws and regulations, but they were not in place when the house was built, he said.

The Great Wall pass was listed as a provincial-level protection site in 2010. However, the local government has not adopted any restoration measures due to a lack of money, since it would cost about 40,000 yuan to restore just one meter of the wall.

"But the good news is that the regional government will allocate some funds to help the restoration this year, and we are doing the budget," he said.

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