In the 1960s, at the height of the cold are, the US Military thought China had developed secret nuke bases. These Hakka Missile Silos were actually clusters of round buildings ended up being the tulou homes of China’s Hakka People.
From China’s Jin Dynasty to the invasion of the Mongols, the Hakka people migrated as refugees from Northern China to the southern provinces. In Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, and Hunan, the migrating clans found homes.
Hakka was a term of derision in Cantonese, meaning guest families. The minority group are also called Kejia. When the newcomers arrived, the Punti (or native Cantonese inhabitants), pushed them to less-than-ideal land to settle and eek out an existence. The two groups, rivals, fought clan wars in the 19th century. Eventually, the two groups inter-married and the term Hakka was adopted, by the newcomers as a form of self-reference. It now describes not only the people but their language, cuisine, and customs.
They built walled communities; families, and generations under one roof, on guard against other clans, bandits, and marauders. These homes dot the landscape of southern China. The Pentagon, looking at reconnaissance photos of the circular homes in Fujian province in the 1960s, thought them missile silos.
The Crane Lake Village, in the Longgang district of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China, is a prime example of the communal dwellings built by the Hakka people. The Luo clan built the walled enclosure over three generations, finishing in 1817. The original village covered approximately 25,000 square meters and was protected by fortifications and guard towers. The families lived inside 300 rooms, divided but not separated from each other. The center of the complex holds an ancestral temple.
The site is now a protected historical relic and runs as the Hakka Folk Custom Museum. Once on a small lake, the village is now surrounded by apartment blocks and shops. The land once considered uninhabitable has seen a boom and grown up around the once grand estate.