Chinese village builds “great wall”, gate to enclose itself and fend off outsiders, including thieves
Aodi village in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province is embraced by the mountains on three sides and has only one bottleneck serving as the main entrance/exit. In recent years, the crime rate has climbed after the village has gradually bootstrapped itself out of the difficulties. In order to keep thieves at bay, residents chipped in and raised funds to build a city wall at the bottleneck.
The brick wall is 500 meters (1,600 feet) long and 9 meters (29 feet) high. The gate is equipped with access control system that, once enabled, requires everyone upon entry to either swipe their magnetic cards or buzz for a villager living inside. Outsiders have to register.
A villager who has just harvested his vegetables is going to enter the village. “Building the wall and the gate is for prevention of thieves who infiltrate into the village,” said Ruan Guolin, chief of Kengzheng village, which administers three smaller villages including Aodi.
Aodi wasn’t a rich village until 2006 when a provincial highway was built next to the village, which facilitated transportation and inspired villagers to start businesses that can be better connected to the outside world. However, ever since the high way was build, traffic volume increased, and theft incidence had been climbing. “Back then, the village had a dozen of entrances. It was very difficult to crack down on theft. After village cadres had a few discussions, they decided to built a wall,” Ruan said. Aodi is situated inside a “dustpan” with natural barriers – mountains – on three sides. All of the previous entrances were located on the accessible side. Therefore, building a wall to seal the pass can effectively control flow of traffic.
In 2007, the village started the construction. It went very slowly because of lack of funds. In 2009, the village proposed contribution. The county government also provided some grant. Finally, more than 500,000 yuan (US$76,000) was raised. At the beginning of this year, the project was completed.
The wall stretches for 500 meters. The shortest part is 3 meters high while the tallest part is as high as 9 meters. The 70-cm thick wall has a 7-meter-tall iron gate with two stone lions sitting apart on two sides.
There are safeguards posted at the gate. The gate is open to the public during 6 a.m. to 10 p.m and will be closed after 10 pm. Then the access is limited. “Each household is given two magnetic cards. Non-residents should call people inside to confirm their identities or brought in by villagers,” Ruan said.