The Great Wall of China Has Suffered ‘Irreversible’ Damage After Two Workers Excavated a Shortcut Through the Cultural Relic

The pair have been detained and charged with destroying a cultural relic.

Youyuxian County Public Security Bureau

Two suspects accused of digging a hole to create a shortcut over the Great Wall of China have been arrested for causing damage to the world famous heritage site.

Last month, police received an alert reporting that the hole had been dug in the Great Wall in Yang Qianhe Township, about 215 miles west of Beijing, the Youyuxian County Public Security Bureau said in a statement. Investigators called the historic site “severely damaged.”

When investigators arrived at the UNESCO World Heritage site, they spotted tire treads in the dirt, leading them to determine that the ancient wall was damaged by large machinery, but were initially unable to find the culprit.

The suspects were identified earlier this month as a 38-year-old man named Zheng and a 55-year-old woman named Wang, both from the Chinese autonomous region of Inner Mongolia.

The suspects dug the hole “to facilitate the passage of the excavator through the gap, causing irreversible damage to the integrity of the Ming Great Wall and the safety of cultural relics,” officials said.

Two suspects accused of digging a hole through the Great Wall of China to create a shortcut have been arrested. Photo courtesy of Youyuxian County Public Security Bureau

Officials noted that the specific section of the wall that was damaged is known as the 32nd Great Wall, named after the 32nd beacon tower where the Great Wall enters Youyuxian County.

“There are relatively complete side walls and beacon towers in existence. It is a provincial cultural relic protection unit. It is famous for its majestic and vast ancient frontier fortress style and has important protection and research value,” officials said.

China Daily, a media outlet owned by the Chinese government, reported that the pair has been charged with destroying a cultural relic. Further details about the suspects, such as any court appearances or penalties, could not be found.

Meanwhile, China has been seeking to boost tourism to the UNESCO World Heritage site in recent months with the continuation of the Great Wall Tourism Highway No. 1.

A hole is seen in the Great Wall of China

Youyuxian County Public Security Bureau

Workers have completed 1,542 miles of roadway and secured about $1.8 million in special funding to protect cultural relics in the Shanxi province.

As of the end of July, officials have invested more than $1.9 billion in the scenic roadway.

“Relying on the ancient Great Wall and its surrounding tourism resources … our province has created a Great Wall culture and tourism integrated development model,” officials said in a statement.

“In conjunction with the scenic spots along the Great Wall, we have launched themed tourism routes such as food tasting, leisure vacations, parent-child study, and Great Wall countryside, and continued to launch Great Wall-themed cultural and creative products.”


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