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Section of Great Wall Damaged by Excavator: Two Suspects Detained




In a concerning turn of events, two individuals have been arrested in northern China for allegedly causing significant damage to a part of the ancient Great Wall using an excavator.

The Incident

On August 24, police in Yuyou County of Shanxi province received reports of damage inflicted on a section of the iconic Great Wall. The two suspects, a 38-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman, were construction workers who were purportedly attempting to create a shortcut for their nearby construction tasks.

They allegedly extended an existing breach in the wall into a broad gap, making it sufficiently large for their excavator to traverse. This action was purportedly to “save the distance of travel,” as detailed in a statement released by the local police. The excavation has resulted in “irreversible” damage, compromising both the structural integrity and safety of that part of the wall.

Historical Significance

The Great Wall stands as a testament to China’s historical might and defense mechanisms against northern invasions. Stretching more than 20,000 kilometers (approximately 12,427 miles), it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The earliest sections of this monumental structure date back over two thousand years and have been expanded throughout China’s ancient dynasties.

The damaged section, specifically known as the 32nd Great Wall, belongs to the era of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). This section is noteworthy for housing a well-preserved watch tower and is recognized as a provincial cultural relic.

Protection Efforts and Previous Incidents

Chinese authorities have significantly ramped up efforts to protect the Great Wall, especially given its monumental historical, cultural, and tourism value.

  • In 2021, three visitors were apprehended and subsequently fined for defacing the renowned Badaling section of the wall using a sharp object.
  • Later that year, authorities prohibited two foreign tourists from accessing the Great Wall due to their trespassing into an undeveloped segment of the Mutianyu section.

Further, around 30% of the Great Wall has disappeared over the years. Factors contributing to this loss include challenging climatic conditions and reckless human activities, such as brick theft for construction purposes, as reported by BBC News.

Call for Improved Protective Measures

It is evident that while efforts have been made in the past to protect the Great Wall, there is a pressing need to reassess and upgrade protective measures. Possible steps could include:

  • Enhanced Surveillance: Installation of modern surveillance equipment and regular patrols along vulnerable sections of the Wall to deter potential vandals.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Educating locals and tourists about the significance of the Wall and the severe consequences of causing harm to it.
  • Restoration Projects: Collaborating with historians, archaeologists, and engineers to restore damaged sections while retaining the authentic essence of the original structure.
  • Stringent Legal Consequences: Enacting and enforcing stricter laws with hefty penalties for those found guilty of damaging the Wall or any other significant historical site.

Community Involvement

Local communities living in proximity to the Great Wall can play a pivotal role in its preservation. Empowering these communities through training and creating opportunities for them to be involved in the Wall’s maintenance and tourism activities can foster a sense of ownership and responsibility. Moreover, this approach can provide economic incentives for locals to actively protect the site and report suspicious activities.


The case regarding the recent damage is under rigorous investigation. The incident brings to light the importance of preserving world heritage sites and raises questions about the balance between development and conservation. The fate of the two suspects remains to be seen, but it serves as a stern reminder of the importance of safeguarding our global heritage. Such incidents underscore the need for strengthened vigilance and the implementation of more stringent measures to prevent acts of vandalism and degradation against historical sites, particularly those with the revered status of the Great Wall.