Single's Day, Putin and China's First Lady

  • 11 November 2014
  • From the section China
Media captionRussian President Vladimir Putin's attentions were rebuffed by China's first lady

Russian leader Vladimir Putin's solicitous act of draping China's First Lady Peng Liyuan in a shawl has become a social media highlight of the Apec summit. It also ignited Chinese forums on Tuesday, which was Singles Day.

Vladimir Putin has a special place among the cast of world leaders for the Chinese public.

Perhaps it is a legacy of the fraternal relations between the Soviet Union and Mao's Communist China.

But it's probably more about his macho strongman image, something generations of solemn Chinese leaders have not been noted for.

Image copyright AP
Image caption That moment

Mr Putin stole the limelight on Monday when at an Apec party he carefully placed a shawl over the shoulders of China's stylish first lady Peng Liyuan.

A gracious Ms Peng accepted the offer, but removed the shawl only seconds later, replacing it with her own black jacket.

It was a fleeting moment but captured on live television and China's internet users went wild for the gesture, posting the GIF image on their Weibo accounts.

One Weibo user (TuXiaonuan_sakura) lauded Mr Putin's act, saying: "Well done, uncle Putin."

Another user, "Happy Zhang Jiang", also fell for the Russian leader: "Like Putin. He is truly a man. He is the heart throb for many women. Cool!"

Image copyright AP
Image caption A more formal moment

Perhaps after seeing how the forums pounced on the moment, state TV stopped running that scene and there is no mention of it in official state media.

But on Weibo and WeChat it is clearly what is making people talk and there has been little censorship so far.

Mindful of Russia's vast gas resources, one user said: "The energy from Russia warms both China and Germany."

Name: Putin, Skills: Shawl-covering

This served as a reminder to China's Weibo users that Russia's "gallant" president had form. He once covered German Chancellor Merkel with a shawl at a previous G20 summit.

Image copyright AP
Image caption It's happened before

Others started posting short biographies online for the Russian president: "Name: Putin, Skills: shawl covering."

Coincidently, 11 November is the so-called Single's Day in China. Some wondered: "How come Putin is single?" Another quipped, "My mom is asking, how come Putin is divorced?"

Image copyright AP
Image caption Xi Jingping appears to have no idea a shawl is being placed upon his wife's shoulders

Singles Day is China's biggest online shopping day. It began as a holiday devoted to single people, an anti-Valentine's Day.

On this day, then, some saw the shawl moment as an opportunity to offer advice to China's singletons, who were exhorted to copy Mr Putin's chivalrous advances: "Attention, for those considerate gentleman, please always remember to take blankets around."

Image copyright other
Image caption Among the comments: "To be a considerate gentlemen, always remember to take blankets around"

Another internet user re-imagined a conversation between Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan: "Look, he is doing the same to every woman."

But there was the occasional rebuke: "Shameful Putin. How dare you steal the limelight from Xi Dada [nickname for Xi Jinping]?"

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