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 lossesscenarios that have grown in likelihood as Evergrandes 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 Evergrandes 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