The structures are monuments to the once-grand ambitions of China Evergrande Group, now among the world’s most indebted property companies, and a case study in how China’s dependence on real estate as an economic engine helped feed those ambitions. Evergrande is in trouble in part because it developed properties aggressively in places such as Lu’an, where its debt-fueled building spree came as the city’s population dwindled. It launched hundreds of projects across more than 200 Chinese cities.
As it expanded, Evergrande racked up more than $300 billion in liabilities. In September, it said it was facing unprecedented difficulties and was trying to protect customers. Days later, it missed a scheduled interest payment to overseas bondholders. On Monday, Evergrande and its property-management unit halted trading in Hong Kong; the unit said it could be subject of a takeover bid, which could bring in much-needed cash for Evergrande.