Over the past two decades, millions of Chinese citizens have been forcibly removed from their homes to allow for the construction of Olympic stadiums, a hydroelectric power plant, and various other government-approved land grabs.

Now about another 9,100 will be moved — this time so Beijing can hunt for aliens in outerspace.

On Tuesday, state-run Xinhua news agency reported that residents of Pingtang and Luodian counties in the relatively poor southwestern province of Guizhou will be evacuated during the wrap-up of installing FAST (or five-hundred-meter aperture spherical radio telescope), the world’s largest radio telescope.

The telescope’s mission? To make contact with extraterrestrials and discover the origins of the universe — a goal Chinese astronomer Shi Zhicheng believes is attainable.

“If intelligent aliens exist, the messages that they produced or left behind, if they are being transmitted through space, can be detected and received by FAST,” Shi told the Hong Kong- based South China Morning Post last year.

The telescope’s diameter is more than 547 yards, and according to Communist Party officials, will require more than a three-mile radius to detect signals from outer space.

It’s cost the Chinese government more than $180 million since construction began in 2011. And now that it’s nearing completion, Beijing’s eco-migration bureau will also be shelling out at least $1,800 to each resident being forced from home. Four different settlements will be set up for those who have to move.

According to Communist Party officials, the telescope’s location in Guizhou’s mountainous Qiannan region makes it the perfect fit for exploring contact with aliens. The only downside? Those pesky humans who have made their homes there.

By SIOBHAN O’GRADY Feb. 16 2016 on Foreign Policy

Read more here