Chinese censors went into panic mode in a rush to block footage of Russian President Vladimir Putin acting chivalrously toward President Xi Jinping’s wife.
At an APEC event to watch the fireworks in Beijing on Monday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan, his coat on a chilly night – a common occurrence in Russia where people presumably freeze to death all the time. A smiling Ms Peng accepted the offer, but removed the shawl only seconds later, replacing it with her own black jacket. A little overly chivalrous maybe, but Putin was hardly putin the moves on her. I mean, it’s not like he tried giving her a shoulder rub… Bush.
Nevertheless, the moment quickly went viral on Weibo and other Chinese social media. Chinese citizens began to make a series of off-color, critical jokes about the First Lady and the world’s manliest, shirtless bear-riding leader after watching footage of the gesture on state broadcaster CCTV.
“Our first lady is a charming one indeed,” said one poster by the handle Li Shigong.
“The foreign hostile forces just cannot stand it, and must have its hands on it,” joked another.
“Like Putin. He is truly a man. He is the heart throb for many women. Cool!” one Weibo user swooned.
“All Obama and Xi can do is watch.”
Cue China’s notoriously paranoid censors. The country’s authorities quickly pulled the Putin-Peng video from Sina Weibo and the Web site of Phoenix TV overnight, along some of the more racy comments.
“China is traditionally conservative on public interaction between unrelated men and women, and the public show of consideration by Putin may provide fodder for jokes, which the big boss probably does not like,” said Beijing-based commentator Zhang Lifan.
China and Russia have been eager to showcase their increasingly close economic ties, but I don’t think this is the kind of closeness Xi Jinping had in mind…