Three people were detained for damaging part of the Great Wall in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, local officials said Tuesday.
The men used excavators to take earth from the remains of Zhao Great Wall built at least 2,200 years ago, said Zhang Haibing, head of the cultural relics protection office in Baotou in Inner Mongolia.
The damaged part measures 98 meters long, 5.8 meters wide and 3.4 meters high, according to Zhang.
The Baotou company took earth from the world famous relic to use as land fill for the foundation of a factory in the village of Erhaihao.
"It's just a pile of earth," village head Hao Zengjun told officials from the municipal office on cultural relics protection. Hao guided and helped the workers to take earth from the Great Wall although he knew it is under protection.
The Great Wall stretches 6,700 km and winds its way through north China. Construction of the wall began during the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), when separate sections were built in scattered strategic areas.
The wall was rebuilt many times through the centuries, and many sections of it have suffered serious damage from wind and water, as well as human destruction.
The over 500-km-long Zhao Great Wall was built by King Wuling of the Zhao State, one of the seven powerful states during the Warring States Period and originates in Wei County of north China's Hebei Province and extends to Urad Front Banner of Inner Mongolia.
Since the 1980s, the Chinese government has allocated special funds to restore this national monument.
According to the current Chinese laws, those who damage key cultural relics deliberately could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
People taking earth or bricks from the Great Wall will be fined up to 500,000 yuan (US$62,500) after Dec. 1 when the national regulation on protecting the Great Wall goes into effect.
(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2006)