Yangji village in the southeastern city of Guangzhou has reportedly existed for some 900 years.
As China’s economy exploded and the port city’s population ballooned to more than 12 million, real estate developers moved in and Yangji’s 4,000 residents found themselves facing eviction.
Some 99 per cent of Yangji’s villagers are now reported to have abandoned their homes, but at least six families have refused to budge.
Now, in an apparent attempt to force them from their homes, villagers who have already accepted compensation deals have reportedly used earth-diggers to carve out moats around their former neighbours’ homes.
The plight of Yangji’s resisting villagers came to light this week in a series of astonishing photographs published by the Guangzhou-based newspaper, Southern Metropolis Daily.
“The ‘moat digging’ has been going on for over a month,” state news agency Xinhua reported on Monday.
Some of the houses are completely surrounded by six-foot deep moats up to 12 feet long on all four sides, it added.
A villager named Mr Qin, who has refused to leave his home, said the moats were just one tactic “hostile” former neighbours had used to render the community uninhabitable.