Hu Jintao’s Visit to ’77 Yuan’ Apartment a Farce, Netizens Say

January 9, 2011 Updated: January 15, 2011

[xtypo_dropcap]J[/xtypo_dropcap]ust prior to New Year’s Eve, China’s official media reported that Chinese Communist Party General Secretary, Hu Jintao, visited two low income housing residents in Beijing’s Lijingyuan community. The residents, Guo Chunping and her daughter, said they rented a 484 sq. ft. two bedroom apartment for 77 yuan (US$ 11) a month.

Chinese netizens considered it a farcical claim and were outspoken in saying so.

Apple Daily reported these results on Jan. 3. First, the rent in Lijingyuan is approximately 2000 yuan (US$294) per month, making it impossible that Guo could rent it for 77 yuan, the Daily said. Second, Guo is a public servant on the Traffic Police Force and ineligible for low-income housing. Third, the netizens found pictures of Guo’s daughter touring scenic areas in China, arousing suspicions that the pair must have abused the government sponsored low income housing if they do indeed rent the house for 77 yuan.

On Dec. 30, 2010, CCTV broadcast this news, which was copied by other major media in China. The claim was that Hu visited common people during the cold weather in order to understand better how the public lives. The following is the conversation between Hu and the two residents.

“How much is the monthly rent? Is it affordable?”

“It’s 77 yuan per month and very affordable. We thank the (Chinese Communist) Party and the government’s good (housing) policy.”

The news was quickly spread on the Internet and lampooned by chatters and bloggers.

It is not uncommon for local officials to dupe the central government leaders when they pay visits to local areas. When Zhu Rongji was premier (1998-2003), he went to Ling County in Anhui Province to inspect the farming situation. The local officials mobilized people to fill all the the empty barns overnight. After Zhu left, satisfied with what he saw, the officials emptied the barns.

“The problem is, the leaders may very well know that they are being duped but are still delighted to be part of the show. As long as official media report it, there is nothing that people can do,” commented Apple Daily.

An investment consultant who specializes in finance and accounting said that this is the first time, after living in Beijing for three years, that he has heard about an apartment rent of 77 yuan. “I’d like to tell any ambitious young people, please do not think you can live in a 77 yuan apartment in Beijing. It only exists in fairy tales,” he warned in his blog.

A freelance writer and Beijing resident, Zhang Yongpan, told The Epoch Times that he lives in a house which is about 215 sq. ft. and costs 1000 yuan (US$147) per month. Zhang did not know anyone around him who lives in such an affordable place as do Guo and her daughter. “Guanzhuang Township in Chaoyang District (where Lijingyuan is located) is a place with high housing prices. A one bedroom normally costs 1000 yuan. Two bedrooms are between 2000 and 3000 yuan,” Zhang said.

Zhang thinks that Hu knows a trumped-up visit of this sort will provoke discontent among the people, but he has no other choice. While some people think that Hu was bamboozled by the local officials, Zhang said, “He is not a fool. He only pretended not to know.”

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