China’s housing ministry issued a statement at midnight on Tuesday in an attempt to contain a mounting public outcry over a government directive to allow public access to private residential compounds. A ministry spokesperson was quoted in the statement as saying that the opening up of gated residential areas would be a gradual process that would not be carried out in haste or in “rigid uniformity”, suggesting the policy may not apply to all gated communities. No other details were given. READ MORE: China’s supreme court to pay ‘close attention’ to expected law opening up gated communities “Opening up residential compounds is not simply tearing down walls,” the spokesperson said. They also criticised “misunderstandings” about the new regulations, without elaborating on what the public was getting wrong. The directive stipulates that no more gated compounds will be built and that all new residential developments will have to be incorporated into the public street system. Roads and common areas in existing gated compounds will be opened to the public, the statement said. The policy has sparked strong public opposition, with some worrying about the impact on safety, while others have argued the government directive violates a property law passed in 2007 and damages home owners’ private interests. The spokesperson explained that the State Council directive, issued on Sunday, only lays down general guidelines. Local governments will need to come up with detailed plans for implementation and the public “will definitely be consulted then”, the statement said. READ MORE: China’s plan to force private residential compounds to open to public is ‘illegal’: lawyers All provincial and city governments will be cautious in “dealing with all kinds of interests involved, according to law”, the spokesperson said. Wu Zhiqiang, the deputy dean of Tongji University who was the chief architect for World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, told the news website Xinmin.cn that “gated residential compounds” only referred to large-scale government compounds in the north and some super-sized residential areas in southern provinces that disrupted traffic, not average residential areas. Some government compounds had expanded to cover an area of five square kilometre, becoming a mini city. There were few such large-scale compounds in Shanghai, therefore there was no such need to “tear down the walls”, Wu was quoted as saying. Cheng Xinwen, chief judge at the first civil tribunal at the Supreme People’s Court, said on Tuesday that legislation would be needed to implement the policy and the court would be paying close attention and would proactively respond to it.