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The Great Wall of China

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The continuation of the Great Wall of China is, in my eyes, a mistake because it will lead to a heavy loss of life, wasted resources, and a lack of people to farm and keep the population healthy. Not to mention the incredible amount of manpower needed to build such a vast structure. Four thousand miles of a wall is an onerous task and traversing the mountainous terrain will be perilous. The need to transport the required resources to a mountainous build site is as dire as it is dangerous. In my opinion, the costs far outweigh the benefits, and it would be more pragmatic to make peace. For these reasons, we need to halt the construction of the wall.

If the wall is to be more than four thousand miles long, with towers that are two bowshots apart, surely that requires a lot of soldiers. Each tower is designed to hold six men, and if each tower is full, then there will be very few people left to defend the cities.

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“We sally forth at dawn, but do not return at dusk.”

This line from a poem describing the life of a cavalry soldier shows that there was a high mortality rate for soldiers defending the wall. This is, in my opinion, a waste of human life, and it is completely inhumane to send people to fight what seems a losing battle. As well as losing lives, it will also lose the country valuable equipment which the Xiongnu are bound to pick up. In essence, they are defeating us because we are properly arming them. We’d need to use valuable metal to create these weapons. It is a waste of metal if these weapons are going to end up in the hands of the Xiongnu. In essence, we are “shooting ourselves in the foot”.

Having a six-man tower every two bowshots will require thousands of soldiers to leave their homes and protect an almost empty country. With everyone off defending the wall, there will be very few people to grow food, and supply troops with enough nourishment to survive. Such an ambitious project will be highly taxing. The funding for the soldiers and the forging of weaponry will be the most taxing. With the majority of our population either building the wall or defending it, it will leave very little time to harvest crops or hunt food. Families will not be capable of producing such large quantities of food and have enough surplus of which will feed their own families. I urge you to reconsider your stance on this so-called “great wall”.

In addition to needing thousands of men who can defend the wall, there is a demand for an adequate building workforce, composed of strong and fit men. The issue with this is that most of the workers are likely to die of heat exhaustion, freezing temperatures, or accidents. We cannot afford to lose valuable men in the construction of a wall that we have little need of. We are a perfectly strong nation and do not need a wall to hide behind while our soldiers blindly fight for us. Sending people to die for a wall they may never see finished is an act of callousness. We would do better to abandon such folly and focus on expanding our empire to the west and obtain more resources that can be used to our advantage. It is utterly remorseless and even bordering on misanthropy. By the time the wall is complete, all of our strong and able men will be dead on their feet from exhaustion. As a benevolent ruler, it is your duty to listen to the reason and wisdom that derives from your government.

In conclusion, I propose several options. Why not make peace with the Xiongnu? We could coexist quite harmoniously if both sides were willing to cooperate. Who knows, maybe they will teach us a thing or two. We would benefit from befriending the Xiongnu because it will mean that our empire expands further north. We will have access to more farming land, and more space for our population to move into. There would be little need for defense in that case and we could focus our efforts on more important matters. Instead of building the wall, we could protect our cities better. If each city were to have a wall surrounding it, then we would be much better protected than a poorly equipped force of soldiers defending one large wall. Soldiers would be closer to home and more able to help to tend the fields.

“For the immigrants in such border areas, the government will construct walled cities, well protected by high walls, deep moats, catapults, and thorns.”

These words come from your advisor, Chao Cuo, who is in agreement with my ideas and believes that defense on a smaller scale is more beneficial. I implore you to see reason. If we continue to build this wall, then our population will slowly dwindle as soldiers die north of the wall, and builders die constructing it. Realistically, the only benefits that this project will lead to, are our protection and protecting traders. I have already given you solid, factual evidence for my claim and hope that you will understand my concerns regarding the wall. This wall is a waste of our strength and materials. Your grace, we should stop construction as soon as possible, to lower the loss of valuable lives and resources. If we continue this fruitless project, then we will find ourselves without food during the colder months, which is less than desirable. 

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