• With the construction of a cable car, the outside world is so much closer to the residents of Zhongdong Cave.

With the construction of a cable car, the outside world is so much closer to the residents of Zhongdong Cave. (Photo : Twitter)

Far from civilization, 18 families live in solitude inside an enormous cave in southwestern China. For years the country’s remaining cave-dwelling village has been undisturbed, but a local tourism development company now threatens their way of life, Capital News reported.

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Before, the only access the village has to the outside world is a narrow and winding footpath that traverses through Guizhou Province’s rough terrain. Now, the outside world is suddenly closer thanks to the newly built cable car estimated to be worth 15 million yuan or $2.2 million. It is scheduled to go into operation on the first of May.

According to the local tourism development company, residents of the cave can use the cable car without charge. Aside from making their lives easier, the cable car will also help present new business opportunities to the cave dwellers.

The residents of Zhongdong, however, are divided on whether the cable car will improve their lives.

For Wang Xingguo, a 22-year-old cave dweller, the cable car will only be an inconvenience as it can’t carry poultry or unwieldy cargo.

“They said they’d build us a road 15 years ago, but then they discovered this was a place they could make money off and so chose not to built it,” Wang told Capital News.

“When authorities decide to develop a scenic spot, only they get rich,” he added.

It is unclear when the first residents of Zhongdong moved into the cave. Most families, however, have been there for generations. Some families, like Wang’s, moved into the cave after the founding of the PRC in 1949.

Unlike his son, Wang Hongqing is open to the thought of tourists visiting the cave via the cable car. There are deep-seated fears, however, that the government will ask the villages once again to leave the cave, and what will happen to it if they do leave.

“When they make this a tourist site, they’ll charge entrance fees, and I wouldn’t even be able to afford to get into the place that used to be my home,” the senior Wang said.