The men used excavators to take earth from the remains of part of the Great Wall in Inner Mongolia, built at least 2,200 years ago, to use as landfill for a village factory.
"It's just a pile of earth," Erhaihao village head Hao Zengjun was quoted as telling officials from the Municipal Office on Cultural Relics Protection.
The Great Wall, which snakes its way across more than 4,000 miles, receives an estimated 10 million visitors a year, mostly to the tiny portion open to tourists at Badaling, the nearest stretch to Beijing.
The wall, which the United Nations listed as a World Heritage Site in 1987, has been rebuilt many times through the centuries, and many sections of it have suffered serious damage from weather erosion and human destruction.
Visitors climb wilder, crumblier sections that are not officially open to the public and stretches have become popular sites for summer raves.
Under the current law, those who damage key cultural relics deliberately can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
From December 1, people taking earth or bricks from the Great Wall will be fined up to 500,000 yuan ($62,500).
А ВОТ ЗАРУБЕЖНЫЕ ГРАЖДАНЕ ИСТЕКАЮТ СОКОМ ОТ НАСЛАЖДЕНИЯ КРАСОТАМИ НА ВЕЛИКОЙ КИТАЙСКОЙ...
И ДЕЙСТВИТЕЛЬНО, ЕСТЬ ТАМ НА ЧТО ПОЛЮБОВАТЬСЯ