A man and woman from China’s Inner Mongolia Province were arrested in neighboring Shanxi Province last month for damaging the Great Wall.
The Youyu County Public Security Bureau announced the damage to the wall and the arrest of the suspected culprits on the Chinese web-hosted version of WeChat.
On Aug. 24, local law enforcement got word that a gap had been widened within the Great Wall. Upon arrival, police determined an excavator had been used, and subsequent patrols turned up the machine and its suspected operators.
The accused are identified in the police release only as Zheng, a 38-year-old man, and Wang, a 55-year-old woman. They are alleged to have used the excavator to widen an existing gap in order to create a shortcut.
“Excavators were used to excavate the original gap of the ancient Great Wall into a large gap, so that the excavator can pass through the gap, which caused irreversible damage to the integrity of the Ming Great Wall and the safety of cultural relics,” the Youyu County Public Security Bureau wrote, as translated by Google.
The pair have been detained and the incident remains under investigation.
The affected span of the Great Wall is named after its former purpose as the 32nd beacon tower in the Ming Dynasty’s iteration of the border structure. It is a provincial-level cultural heritage site.
Multiple Chinese imperial dynasties contributed to various spans and sections of the Great Wall; the section in question was erected during the Ming Dynasty, which ruled from 1368 A.D. to 1684. It was the last native Han Chinese imperial dynasty and the last of China’s dynasties to invest in the border wall.