Two held for damaging Great Wall of China

Beijing, Sep 7 (IANS) Police in China’s Gansu Province have detained two people for damaging the Great Wall, authorities said on Monday.

In an inspection tour in mid-August, the Gansu Cultural Relics Bureau found that holes were dug under seven towers along the wall in Jingtai county, the Global Times reported.

Bureau officials informed police, which led to the detention of the two people. Police suspect they had been digging for gold.

Damaging historical structures is a crime in China. Perpetrators face fines or prison terms.

The Great Wall — designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site — stretches for over 69 km in Gansu Province of northwest China. The Jingtai stretch of the Great Wall was built in the Ming dynasty in 1599 and is under state protection.

Unlike eastern parts of the Great Wall in Beijing and Hebei, which were mostly constructed with stones and bricks, sections in Gansu were built with earth. After centuries of erosion from wind and sandstorms, they have become extremely fragile.

Construction of the Great Wall, which was listed as a World Heritage Site by the Unesco in 1987, began during the reign of the first emperor of Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) in ancient China, to keep out foreign invaders.

Gansu is home to about a quarter of the Great Wall.

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