Two people have been detained after using an excavator to dig a hole in the Great Wall of China, said the state broadcaster CCTV.
Police in Shanxi province followed tracks made by machinery used to dig a shortcut through a segment of the wall – remains of the immense structure built by China’s emperors to deter foreign invaders.
The suspects admitted under questioning that they had used a digger to create a shortcut in the wall in an attempt to reduce local travel time, state media reported.
Construction of the Great Wall, which is split into sections that in total stretch for thousands of kilometres, began in the third century BC and continued for centuries.
The affected section, situated about a six-hour drive west of central Beijing, dates back to China’s Ming dynasty of the 14th through to the 17th centuries.
CCTV reported on Monday that the suspects had caused “irreversible damage” to the Ming-era wall, which was described as a “relatively intact” section of significant research value.
Images on Chinese TV showed the scene where a dusty road had been cut through a long, raised section of ground that appeared to be the remnants of the ancient barrier.
“Currently, the two suspects have been criminally detained in accordance with the law, and the case is continuing to be investigated,” said CCTV.
While the better-known parts of the Great Wall consist of beautifully built structures dotted with ancient watchtowers, other parts of the structure are crumbling or have disappeared altogether.
A 2016 report from newspaper Beijing Times suggests more than 30% of the Ming Great Wall has disappeared entirely, with only 8% of it considered well preserved.
To understand why somebody – such as the accused – might have such a blasé attitude towards wrecking a section of this world-famous historical structure, it is important to consider what it is.
The Great Wall is a series of battlements stretching across vast sections of northern China and it is in widely varying states of disrepair. It is sometimes found in places with villages or towns, but often in remote areas of various provinces.
The oldest portions, dating back thousands of years, were rammed earth walls and now appear as mounds, not even immediately recognisable as the Great Wall.
Much of the degradation of the wall has been attributed to local farmers stealing bricks or stones to build houses or animal pens.
More recently, the government has gone to greater lengths to preserve the Great Wall and, as a result, these two people are in a lot of trouble.
The public in China won’t think that these actions have been extremely unusual, given the previous destruction of the Great Wall, but they will be upset by them, given the enormous historical and cultural importance of this structure – not only for China but for all of humanity.
Two people have been arrested for using an excavator to dig a hole in the Great Wall of China causing “irreversible damage” to one of Unesco’s world heritage sites, the state broadcaster CCTV reported on Wednesday.
Local police in Shanxi province in China said in a statement that a 38-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman were accused of digging through the Great Wall in order to create a shortcut for their nearby construction work.
Great Wall of China damaged by workers allegedly looking for shortcut for their excavator
BY EMMET LYONS
Two people have been arrested in northern China after allegedly damaging a section of China’s iconic Great Wall by using an excavator to cut a huge gap in the ancient structure, local police said in a statement posted online. The suspects, a 38-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman, are construction workers who were allegedly trying to create a shortcut to save time going around the wall, the police said, describing the structure as “severely damaged.”
The police in China’s northwest Youyu County said they were alerted on August 24 to reports that a gap had been dug in a section of the famous structure known as the 32nd Great Wall, a section dating back to the Ming Dynasty, which ruled over China for almost 300 years until the mid-1640s.
“Excavators were used to excavate the original gap of the ancient Great Wall into a large gap, so that the excavator could pass through the gap, which caused irreversible damage to the integrity of the Ming Great Wall and the safety of cultural relics,” the police statement said.
The structure is a listed UNESCO World Heritage site and stands as one of the great monumental feats of ancient human engineering.
In recent years, around 30% of China’s Great Wall has disappeared as challenging climate conditions and reckless human activities — including stealing the bricks to build houses — have eroded the structure, according to the AFP news agency.