Guo Jiaming, 70, stands outside the entrance to her cave dwelling in
Lin county, Shanxi province.

CLINGING to an underground life : CHINA'S cave dwellers fight plan to move them to more conventional homes.

Cebeng China : When armed bandits prowled this remote, mountainous stretch of the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou in the chaotic years before the founding of modern China, the ethnic Miao villagers hid in the region's enormous caves.

And there they have remained, even after China was united under the Communist rule, grinding out an existence of profound rural poverty and isolation.

The area where the cave dwellers live is one of the poorest provinces in China. The only link to the rest of the country, and the outside world, is over a mountain footpath - a brisk one hour hike through a steep valley - that leads to a nearby road.

Over the past 20 years, though, the caves have become less secluded because of a steadily increasing trickle of tourists, who come to experience what local media have described as the last continuously inhabited caves in China.

A cottage industry has popped up in which the cave dwellers earn extra money by renting out rooms in their homes, which over time have clustered within Zhong cave,

The hanger-like cave is so large that their wooden or bamboo-made residence from small, subterranean village build along its undulating walls.

During the day, the cave is filled with the sound of  cows and roosters. On Friday afternoons, the laughter of children echoes and the smell of cooking fires permeates the caves cool, damp air, which offers relief from the heat of the valley below.

The county government wants the residents of Zhong caves to move to a nearby block of housing : low slung, white walled farmhouses with wooden windows frames that were completed nearly  10 years ago.

Officials say that residents have not taken care of the cave, leaving it unsuitable for inhabitation, and   that the government should oversee the village as it is listed  as  a protected community by the Geru River Tourism Administration, a local Agency.

They have offered each resident 60,000 reaminibi, or approximately $9,500 to leave.

Only five families have agreed to move.

The Honor and Serving of the latest Operational Research on Life and Living and Progress continues to Part 2. !WOW! thanks author and photographer Bryan Denton.


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