Chinese authorities have censored the viral footage of an episode at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing on Tuesday in which Vladimir Putin can be seen wrapping a shawl around the Chinese first lady – the wife of President Xi Jingping – in an apparent act of chivalry.
The newly single Russian president, in an apparent act of courtesy, draped the shawl – possibly his coat as reported by some news organisations – around Peng Liyuan as they sat down for a fireworks display during the APEC summit in Bijing on the cold Tuesday evening.
Peng smiled and appeared to politely accept the gesture; she surreptitiously removed the coat from her shoulders seconds later, handing it to an attendant.
The episode was covered by almost every western news outlet, in what Russian Times notes seemed to be a 'coatgate'.
Locals were able to see the moment live on national broadcaster CCTV, with the commentator making a brief mention about it – immediately sparking a hash tag on Chinese social networks. Only hours later, all mention of the incident were erased and the videos were taken down by China.
The fact that Putin had recently become single after divorcing his wife of 30 years and the day the incident occurred was called the 'Singles Day' further bolstered the notorious coverage in the western media with many saying Putin was 'hitting' on the Chinese first lady.
"Putin On the Moves: Vlad Cozies Up to China's First Lady," NBC's headline screamed.
"Putin Hits on China's First Lady," said US magazine Foreign Policy. "Russia's Don Juan-in-chief just got a little too friend with Xi Jingping's wife."
Here are few funny reactions from Twitter:
- Putin took off his coat and wrapped it round the Chinese first lady. This is not a romantic story kids, this is how World War III began -- @ArsenalMartyr
- The first unspoken rule of diplomacy might be 'Don't hit on the president's wife' -- @cornerd
- Putin firted with China's first Lady, gives message to Chinese presid., if you get too close to USA and ignore Russia, then I know what to do
- Just when I thought Vladimir Putin couldn's surprise me...Hitting on the Chinese First Lady...Readlly vlad? – Christen Scalfano
Jon Stewart on Putin-Peng liyuan coat moment: "Putin just annexed the Chinese president's wife!"
— Eric Fish (@ericfish85) November 12, 2014
— Bistum Würzburg (@mainfrankenkath) November 11, 2014
— Adrian B. Irvananto (@adrianirvan) November 11, 2014
— Lutyens' circuslion (@RachitDun) November 12, 2014