On the west side of the village Huangyangtan is what I take to be a military facility of some kind (judging by the masses of olive-colored trucks parked there). And right next to that is a scale-model of a landscape. I haven’t tried to identify which region it depicts, but it doesn’t seem to be a model of the region where this has been built. The model is mostly mountain ranges, complete with lakes and snow-capped peaks.
If you look at the map in question, it’s rather striking – a perfect rectangle of mountainous territory in the middle of a flat, red desert. A bit of digging, and the same guy turns up this info:
It’s of territory occupied by China but claimed by India, north and south of the east end of the Karakoram range.
It appears to be a 500:1 scale model of the Aksai Chin region, disputed territory occupied by China but claimed by India. A road built through this territory by China was apparently one of the flashpoints in the 1962 Sino-Indian War.
The first thing this made me think of was one of my earlier posts, where I considered the possibility of India and Japan in a partnership of convenience against China. Then I started to think of what an amazing resource the internet is. That people from around the world can look into one of the most remote areas of a dictatorship which take its military secrets very seriously, then find out the source of the model, if not its purpose. To be honest, a huge military such as China’s is going to be full of projects that will never get off the ground, and probably weren’t intended to. Perhaps it’s just some generals inflating their budgets, and probably skimming a bit off the top while they’re at it.