Which standard? With confetti and fanfare, Evergrande says it’s ready to build.


To mark the completion of a residential complex called World City, the indebted real estate giant China Evergrande Group held an extensive red carpet ceremony on Monday in which eight guns fired confetti in front of a jubilant crowd. The company then released a series of photos with newly completed buildings covered with bright red decorations.

Just weeks earlier, Evergrande had been declared in default. The developer has unpaid bills of over $ 300 billion and has fought for it pay back its creditors and business partners. Some in China saw the company’s celebrations as premature.

For months, Evergrande could not pay its builders, painters and contractors. The company, whose problems have put investors on guard against China’s once thriving real estate sector, remained relatively quiet as its debt problems led to panic in global markets and among people around the country who had bought apartments before they were finished.

Construction of more than a million homes stalled, and two weeks ago Evergrande signaled that it could no longer continue – officially included by default after failing to make a final debt payment to foreign investors. Now the developer has promised to start paying its workers again and providing housing, part of a push to restore confidence in the company and the sector.

“We will sprint at full speed,” Xu Jiayin, Evergrande’s billionaire founder, told top executives on Sunday, according to a announcement. He gave no details on where the money would come from, nor did he say anything about non-payment by foreign creditors.

Despite the company’s bullishness, the challenges it faces are still enormous. Some homebuyers say they are still in the dark about their unfinished apartments. Former employees and contractors are still waiting for refunds. Dozens of lawsuits from business partners piled up in court remain unresolved. Property sales across China, meanwhile, have fallen for five consecutive months.

A few weeks ago, government technocrats entered in to help manage the business. The head of China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and Rural Development said last week that Beijing was committed to “guaranteeing home deliveries, protecting people’s livelihoods and maintaining social stability.” With only a few days left of the month, Mr. Xu Sunday to deliver 39,000 apartments before the end of the year.

The company has also said it has restarted partnerships with more than 80 percent of its long-term suppliers of materials, indicating that it would soon be able to repay its debt and begin selling new apartments.

Evergrande’s sudden flow of promises has created more questions than answers for home buyers, suppliers, contractors and creditors who have not yet heard directly from the company. Some people have begun to track which of Evergrande’s hundreds of real estate projects have actually restarted construction.

Li Menghe, chairman of Qingdao Wanhe Construction & Decoration Group, a glass supplier to Evergrande, has started using his official Weibo account to post daily details of the hundreds of projects that have gone up again in recent days. Homebuyers respond to his post with several questions as they try to figure out if their apartments are likely to be finished.

A homebuyer asked about the on-and-off building progress for one of Evergrande’s housing projects in Shandong Province.

“Brother, there is no money in the supervised account,” Mr. Li replied, referring to the blocked account where Evergrande was to place the money it received in advance from the sale of the apartments. He did not explain how he knew this, or responded to a request for comment. But in some public online complaint forums, local officials have told home buyers that there is a lack of money in developers’ blocked accounts.

Zhang Yao, a yoga instructor who taught at Evergrande Healthy Land, a Health and Wellness park in central Henan province said she was asked to resign in September but that she still owes $ 750. Zhang, 29, said she had been paid through a temp agency but had recently confronted an Evergrande manager who was unable to give her a date on when the company would pay her.

She said the manager told her that Evergrande’s own employees had not been paid since October. A company representative did not respond to a request for comment.

In September, Evergrande hired joined concerned home buyers in protesting outside the company’s offices around China. Some were later detained or visited by the local police. As many as 80 percent of Evergrande’s employees were asked to do so at one point put money up to help finance the operation of the business.

Mr. Cao, an Evergrande homebuyer who asked The New York Times to use only his last name for fear of being visited by police, said he had made a payout on a $ 160,000 apartment in Jiangxi Province that was nearly completed and should be delivered in January. He does not expect the apartment to be finished on time because there are only about 20 workers each day at the construction site, he said.

“I think the contractors still have not been paid in full,” he said. “If they had the money, they definitely should have worked faster.”

In the midst of uncertainty, Evergrande’s colorful founder, once known for wearing a flashy gold-plated Herm├Ęs belt, has been largely absent from public view. In early September, he sided with top executives who signed a “military order” promising to deliver home. (Over the next few months, Evergrande would complete less than 10,000 units.) In a note leaked later that month, he promised employees they would soon “go out of the dark.”

Last week, Evergrande published new photographs of Mr. Xu, who chaired a meeting where he urged leaders to keep delivering home. Then come dozens of photos of abruptly completed apartment projects. Homebuyers were photographed happily signing documents that would allow them to finally take possession of their long-awaited apartments.

Some online commentators expressed disbelief that Evergrande could suddenly go from the brink of collapse to business as usual, or shrugged off the idea that buyers should celebrate receiving the homes they had already paid for.

“Today, people are becoming so grateful and feeling that they owe the developer a great service,” noted Michael Yu, a popular influencer on Duoyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. “What happened to people’s bottom line these days?”

With Evergrande under the guidance of officials, some homebuyers and investors are likely to feel more hopeful. This week, the company delivered 1,419 apartments at its World City development as part of its push to complete 39,000 homes by the end of the year. But Evergrande is still on the hook for an estimated 1 million more.



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