Chinese Miffed by Putin Acting Like Gentleman

Russian president wraps shawl around China's first lady, a no-no
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 11, 2014 9:30 AM CST

(Newser) – It was a warm gesture on a chilly night when Vladimir Putin wrapped a shawl around the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping while he chatted with Barack Obama at an event linked to this week's Asia-Pacific summit. The only problem: Putin came off looking gallant, the Chinese summit host gauche and inattentive. In a broadcast originally shown on state CCTV and spread online as a forwarded video, Peng Liyuan stood up, politely accepted the gray shawl or blanket offered by Putin, then thanked him with a slight bow. But she soon slipped it off and put on a black coat offered by her own attendant. Off-color jokes began to circulate on social media about the intentions of the divorced Russian president.

That was too much for the Chinese authorities: The video was soon scrubbed from the Chinese Internet, reflecting the intense control authorities exert over any material about top leaders while also pointing to cultural differences over what's considered acceptable behavior in public. "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," says a Beijing-based historian. (Putin isn't the only one to attract the ire of China.)

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