Beijing, reluctant to bail out the country’s most heavily indebted property developer, is asking local officials across the country to prepare for a ‘possible storm’.
By guest author Keith Zhai from the Wall Street Journal.
The officials characterised the actions being ordered as “getting ready for the possible storm,” saying that local-level government agencies and state-owned enterprises have been instructed to step in only at the last minute should Evergrande fail to manage its affairs in an orderly fashion.
They said that local governments have been tasked with preventing unrest and mitigating the ripple effect on home buyers and the broader economy, for example by limiting job losses—scenarios that have grown in likelihood as Evergrande’s situation has worsened.
Evergrande faces a series of bond payments in the coming weeks, including one closely watched deadline Thursday for an interest payment on an offshore bond.
Local governments have been ordered to assemble groups of accountants and legal experts to examine the finances around Evergrande’s operations in their respective regions, talk to local state-owned and private property developers to prepare to take over local real-estate projects and set up law-enforcement teams to monitor public anger and so-called “mass incidents,” a euphemism for protests, according to the people.
Spokespeople for Evergrande and the information office of China’s cabinet, the State Council, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.