The Circle Houses
Orlando Jones had shifted her interest to the circular earth buildings of the Hakka people of Fujian Province. The US Department of Defence, in spite of a severe lack of concrete evidence, believed these communal homes to be nuclear missile storage facilities. Orlando Jones would have found this gross misrepresentation of the circle earth houses to be hilarious (farcical even) if it had not been so stupid and dangerous.
The Hakka people had been building these architecturally distinctive structures in the region for several hundred years. Traditionally, they built with earth - with what the Mexicans called adobe and modern westerners called mud bricks or rammed earth. Many of the buildings in Hakka villages were small, regular, square or rectangular buildings. Others were round. These circular buildings were large and housed many families. They were three stories high with living space and kitchens on the ground floor, storage on the second and bedrooms on the top. The large circular courtyards in the centre were open to the sky, the rest of the structure roofed in grey tiles. From the air these unique houses did look strange, like giant donuts dotted over the Fujian countryside. The US Department for Defence had interpreted these circular structures, from satellite photographs (they were obviously spying), as nuclear missile storage facilities. This must have come as a complete surprise to the Chinese Government, the Hakka people, the Chinese people and the thousands of visitors, both local and international, who visited these villages each year. These family dwellings were not a Chinese State secret. They were well know and considered as part of China's rich cultural heritage and architecture. The earth buildings and the lifestyles of the people who inhabit them had been extensively documented on film for travelogues and cultural interest programs on television. Any resemblance between the circle buildings and nuclear missile silos existed, Orlando Jones thought, only in the paranoid fantasies of the US Government. "Bloody typical", she thought, "idiocy is obviously a criteria for employment in the US Defence Department. Maybe it is considered to be an inalienable human right."