GUANGZHOU, March 24 (Xinhua) -- A village over 500 kilometers from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou that nestles in mountains is attracting visitors in search of a glimpse into the life of late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew.
A brick and wood residence, located in Dabu County under the city of Meizhou in Guangdong Province, constructed in the traditional Chinese style, with a grey tiled roof and ink paintings on the walls, is the ancestral home of the late leader. It was built in 1884 by his great-grandfather who was born in Dabu in 1848.
Since Lee Kuan Yew's death, many memorials have been organized by local villagers. Evidence of these private events can be seen in the house's main hall -- on the wall is a portrait of Lee during his time as a student in Britain, and candy and rice wine have been left on a square table.
Chiu Kin-leung, from Malaysia, returned to his ancestral home in Dabu County Monday to see relatives and paid a visit to Lee's ancestral residence.
"He is a great man, and the Hakka [a subgroup of China's Han ethnic group] people are proud of him," he said.
Villager Li Wenying, 76, said people from across China and foreign countries including Singapore and Malaysia visit the house.
In the mid-19th century, across Southeast Asia the rubber, palm and mining industries were being heavily developed. Many people in Dabu County, where there was a lack of arable land, chose to emigrate to find work.
Chen Peixian, head of the county's overseas Chinese affairs bureau, said over 300,000 ethnic Hakka lived in Singapore, and about 70 percent were originally from Dabu.
Every year, many Hakka travel to Dabu from Singapore to pay respects to their ancestors, he said.
The ancestral residence of Lee has accommodated four generations of the family of Lee Kuan Yew's cousin Li Fensen, the Li family name is spelled Lee in areas such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
Li's son Li Qintai said friend's of Lee Kuan Yew's father came to Dabu to look for the ancestral home in 1987.
Since then, Li Fensen has received money from Singapore, according to Li Qintai.
"The money was intended to support our family and restore the house," he said.
At the end of 2007, a local government initiated renovation project was carried out at the residence, an exhibition showcasing Lee Kuan Yew's life was also installed.
In 2013, Meizhou City established a Hakka cultural and ecological protection demonstration zone in Dabu. The residence was declared a city-level cultural protection site in 2014.
With an investment of 40 million yuan (6.4 million U.S. dollars) by the Dabu county government, a tourist area featuring the ancestral residence of Lee is under construction.