Why did they build it? Did it work? Is it true the Chinese tried to get the Mongolians to pay for it?
Donald Trump’s efforts to build a border wall – not a fence, he wants us to know, but a wall – have sparked a resurgence of interest in the original prototype. The result has been a steady rehashing of tired old tropes and hoary Great Wall myths that have little to do with China. The Great Wall as metaphor has become Great Wall as cipher. Opinions and understanding of China’s wall depend largely on what one thinks of Donald Trump, your feelings on border fences in general, and, possibly, your level of racism toward Mexicans.
There was never one Great Wall. In the over 2,000-year history of Wall building in China, there have been many structures which together have been lumped together in the feverish imaginations of Western writers as “The Great Wall of China.”