Weird interlude: Putin, a coat, and Chinese president’s wife

Weird interlude: Putin, a coat, and Chinese president’s wife

[Ed. – And you thought our gum-chewing POTUS-in-Chief was the only one faux-pas-ing his way through the APEC summit.]

At an APEC event held on the evening of Nov. 10 at the Water Cube, the resplendent aquatic stadium constructed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Putin was seated next to Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan, who in turn sat next to her husband, Chinese President Xi Jinping.

That’s a seating arrangement Xi may now regret.

While Xi was distracted talking to U.S. President Barack Obama, who was sitting on his right, Russia’s tiger-shooting, horseback-riding president made his move. After a brief exchange — you can almost imagine Peng making appropriately cliché small talk like “my, isn’t it chilly in here” — Putin abruptly stood up, grasped a tan coat in both hands, and wrapped it chivalrously around the first lady’s shoulders. She smiled gracefully, thanked him, and sat down — only to surreptitiously slip the coat from her shoulders moments later into the waiting arms of an attendant. …

State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) caught the whole encounter on video. … Major Chinese news outlets including web giant Sina and Phoenix Media quickly posted the video, which also began circulating on Chinese social media. The encounter even spawned a short-lived hashtag, “Putin Gives Peng Liyuan His Coat,” on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging site.

But that was when the censors kicked in. Within hours of posting the video, Chinese news sites had already pulled it off their sites, and censors scrubbed it from social media sites.

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