After this APEC footage showing Russian President Vladimir Putin working his game (aka Putin the moves) on Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan began circulating online, Chinese censors rushed to pull the video from all of China’s news and social media sites.
The scene was captured by CCTV cameras during an event last night at the Water Cube, a stadium built for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Peng was seated between her husband, President Xi Jinping, and Putin, the fresh divorcée. From across the Water Cube, Xi can be be seen turning away from his wife to speak just before Putin, that stallion of a man, swoops in to wrap a jacket around Peng’s shoulders (although she shrugs it off after a few mere moments).
Seconds later, a commenter remarked upon the spontaneous act of chivalry, saying,”Putin has just placed his coat around Peng Liyuan’s body.”
When the video went online, it was immediately picked up by news sites and social media platforms like Weibo, where the hashtag “Putin Gives Peng Liyuan His Coat” briefly reigned. But, as with all good things in life, the video had to go. Within hours of being published online, Putin’s gallant deed was scrubbed from the Chinese web.
Foreign Policy explains:
China hopes to project a squeaky-clean image while international attention centers on APEC’s host. But that’s not the only reason why the Putin-Peng Coatgate has China’s censors on high alert. China’s tightly controlled state media carefully protects the reputation of its top government leaders, and the names of China’s top leaders are frequently some of the most heavily censored terms on Chinese social media. In addition, the sweeping anti-corruption campaign Xi himself directs specifically targets infidelity as both a sign and a symptom of graft. And given China’s growing economic and military ties with Russia, even the hint of less than squeaky-clean behavior involving Russia’s president and China’s First Lady is certainly strictly verboten.
Cherish your Spock references now, Chinese netizens, for you never know when they’ll be swept away from under you.