“When Trump said, ‘I’m going to build a great wall,’ I thought, ‘What the hell are you talking about? You’re going to have stonemasons down there?’ I mean, it’s ridiculous,” said Arthur Waldron, a University of Pennsylvania professor who wrote one of the most detailed studies of China’s wall.
“The purpose [of China’s wall] was to keep out tens of thousands of guys on horseback who could ride faster than anybody, who could shoot arrows more accurately than anybody, who didn’t give a whit for all of China’s great civilisation but were very happy to get grain, metals, silks and beautiful Chinese princesses and so forth and take them back out into the steppe,” said Waldron, the author of The Great Wall of China: From History to Myth.
But in practice, Waldron said, the wall had proved a catastrophic and costly failure that drained the Ming’s coffers and ultimately failed to prevent its downfall when the Manchus stormed China and established the Qing dynasty, in 1644.
“This wall was the product of imperial oppression, it cost the lives of many innocent people and also it didn’t work,” said Waldron.