Two individuals have been apprehended in northern China on allegations of causing damage to a segment of the Great Wall using an excavator, as reported by local authorities.
Local law enforcement released a statement accusing a 38-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman from Shanxi province of excavating a passage through the Great Wall in order to establish a shortcut for their nearby construction project.
According to the statement, they expanded an existing gap in the ancient structure, creating enough space for their excavator to pass through in an attempt to “reduce travel distance.”
The police asserted that their excavation resulted in “irreversible” harm to the structural integrity and safety of that section of the wall.
Following reports of the damage on August 24, the Yuyou county police detained the two suspects, and the case is currently under further investigation, according to the statement.
The Great Wall, a critical defense structure for successive Chinese Empires in the north, spans over 20,000 kilometers (12,427 miles) in total length and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Its earliest portions date back more than two millennia and were expanded during China’s ancient dynasties.
The damage occurred in a section of the wall dating to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), known as the 32nd Great Wall, which also houses a relatively well-preserved watchtower and is classified as a provincial cultural relic.
In recent years, Chinese authorities have increased their efforts to protect the Great Wall and clamp down on acts of vandalism. In 2021, police detained and fined three visitors who had defaced the famous Badaling section of the wall with a sharp object. Later that year, two foreign tourists were banned from the Great Wall for trespassing into an undeveloped portion of the Mutianyu section.