Tuesday, November 11 2014, 05:15 PM EST
Hong Kong (CNN) — It was a fleeting moment, but one that Chinese censors were quick to snuff out.
At an APEC event to watch the fireworks in Beijing on Monday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin created a few of his own by slipping a shawl over the shoulders of Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
A smiling Peng Liyuan kindly accepted the offer, but seconds later deftly slipped the shawl off into the hands of a waiting aide.
The small act of chivalry, quickly but politely rebuffed, unfolded live on state television, with voiceover from a CCTV anchor stating simply: “President Putin has placed a coat on Peng Liyuan.”
A hashtag based on the same words quickly gained momentum on social media where the video was posted and reposted, according to Foreign Policy. However, by morning, there was little trace of it left.
Searches for the video and hashtag on China’s twitter-like Weibo and messaging service WeChat turned up a smattering of comments and broken links, leaving users to surmise that China’s Internet police had deemed the material too potentially damaging to share.
Some remained though, including this link to the photo with the loosely translated comment: “China’s first lady’s boundless charm wins over Mr. Putin.”
Watch the video: ABC News
Forget the closed-door meetings and trade negotiations: the real drama at the Asia summit came from world leaders in front of the cameras.
Ever-watchful observers in protocol-driven China were quick to notice certain slights that others with a more casual interpretation of manners may have missed.
Thankfully, all of these mishaps were caught on camera.
The president’s armored limousine, dubbed “The Beast,” is a familiar sight when Obama travels abroad, but this time it was not a welcome one.
All of the other world leaders accepted rides in the chauffeured cars ordered through Red Flag limousine, but not Obama. He opted to use his own ride out of security concerns, but that rationale did not necessarily translate fully as USA Today reports that some Chinese bloggers blasted the move online.
The choice of limo may have been somewhat understandable, the fact that the American president was seen chewing gum as he entered the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference on Monday was considered to gauche.
Obama is a known user of Nicorette gum in an effort to fight off his cigarette cravings, but USA Today reported that some local bloggers thought he looked like “an idler” or a “rapper” when he arrived at the grand event.
Possibly the most offensive moment came from Putin, however, when he placed a shawl on the shoulders of Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan.
Many would consider the move a chivalrous one, but some Chinese saw it as inappropriately flirtatious. Liyuan graciously accepted the shawl in the moment, but as soon as Putin turned, she slipped it off and handed it to a nearby aide, according to CNN.
Even more telling was the fact that though the outdoor evening event was broadcast live, all traces of it were virtually erased by this morning, according to CNN.
Putin and Obama weren’t the only ones making viewers cringe during the ongoing summit, however. China’s President Jinping and his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, could barely contain their contempt when the shook hands.
The two gentlemen didn’t put on any airs when they greeted each other Monday, with no smiles in sight.
Their meeting was the first time they have met since taking office in the fall of 2012.