From China Digital Space
胡77 (Hú 77): Hu 77
A reference to former president and CCP general secretary Hu Jintao. On December 30, 2010, CCTV repeatedly broadcast a conversation that Hu had with woman [zh] while visiting a Beijing housing project. Hu asked the two how much they paid in rent every month and if they were able to manage paying that amount. The mother answered that their rent was 77 yuan (approximately USD$12.14 at the time) and added, “We’re able to manage [paying the rent] thanks to the good policies of the Party and of the government” (承担得起，感谢党和政府的好政策).
Astounded and very much skeptical of the woman’s answer, netizens gathered to watch as this news blurb went viral on the Internet. Some netizens claimed that housing prices in that complex would be more like 2000 yuan.
Housing prices in China have risen dramatically over the last decade. According to the Telegraph, it would take a person 50 years to buy an average apartment in Beijing, assuming they saved every penny they earned. Housing prices have outpaced inflation, leading many to consider themselves “mortgage slaves,” or forcing them to live in “snail dwellings.”
As housing prices in China soar, the government has been criticized for not initiating more cooling measures. The “77 yuan” news segment was an obvious attempt to deflect that criticism—it begins and ends by saying that helping provide affordable housing is a top government priority, and suggests that housing prices are quite reasonable. Like other colossal failures of CCTV propaganda, this campaign backfired as netizens perceived they were being fed a lie.
After this event, netizens created a number of parodies using the number 77:
The Chairman [of the Communist Party, Hu Jintao] went to visit Henan University. At the entrance to the school he ran into Li Gang. Brother Hu gently touched his hand. Kindly striking up a conversation, Hu asked, “Every year how many people does your son hit with his car; are you able to manage it?” “Every year my son only hits 77 people and I am able to manage it.” Brother Hu gave a comforting smile.
涛哥来到河大视察，在校门口碰到了李刚。涛哥轻轻的拉着李局长的手，亲切的同他拉起了家常:“你儿子一年撞多少次人？能不能承受的起？” 李刚说：“我儿子一年只撞77次人, 承受的起。” 涛哥露出了欣慰的笑容。
The Chairman went to visit customs agents along the border. Brother Hu gently touched the hand of a customs agent. Kindly striking up a conversation, Hu asked, “How many iPads do you confiscate every day; is your conscience able to manage it?” “Every day we confiscate 77 and our consciences can manage it.” Brother Hu gave a comforting smile.
The Chairman of the Dynamite [Nobel] Prize Committee went to visit Brother Hu. Grasping Hu’s hand he asked, “How many more empty chairs does China have; is China able to manage?” Brother Hu responded, “It still has about 77, and we’re able to manage." The Dynamite Prize Committee Chairman gave a comforting smile.
After the event, China's Ministry of Truth deemed “Hu 77” a sensitive term, requiring Internet companies to delete all negative information related to “affordable rental of 77-yuan/month,” and “tenant pays 77-yuan/month” (“77元廉价租房”，“77元房客”).