As leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific nations gathered Monday in Beijing for the annual Pacific Economic Cooperation summit held at that water cube stadium you may remember from the 2008 Olympics, Putin put a tan shawl around Chinese President Xi Jinping’s wife, Peng Liyuan. She awkwardly removed it seconds later and what was a patriarchal but generally well-intentioned gesture from Russia’s leading man turned international incident.
Chinese news sites were forced to pull the footage, according to Foreign Policy. China’s microblogging site, Weibo, buzzed with the hashtag “Putin Gives Peng Liyuan His Coat.” But censors scrubbed it all from these social media sites, because China’s state-sanctioned media carefully curates the profiles of its governing leaders. The president looking like an inattentive boyfriend that’s back-slapping bros at prom while the ladyfriend sips iced tea is apparently an unacceptable image to project in China.