Most afternoons the residents of China’s Xian village congregate in a sitting room at 30 Fanyang Main Street, a brick alley just wide enough to allow two three-wheeled carts to pass abreast. The alley is flanked by the rubble of demolished and hollowed-out homes. “No. 30 is our anti-corruption base,” says Lu Yongquan, one of the organizers of the village’s defense. He is a boyish-looking 47-year-old, with gray flecks peppering his black hair, which he blames on the years of pressure. “In all of China, there is perhaps no village that has resisted for this long.”

Standing precariously in the heart of the new central business district in Guangzhou, China’s third-largest city, the 1,400-family Xian village spreads across 45 acres and is ringed on all sides by new skyscrapers and apartment towers. Cater-cornered from one edge lies a Lamborghini dealership, on another, the W Hotel. Five minutes away by foot, cranes add the final touches to what will be one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. My own 32-story apartment building lies on the village’s southern edge, looking out over the village’s serried and shapeless homes… Read the rest of the story on Slate or Roads & Kingdoms

  • The Siege of Xian