Let me ask you something: What would you do if suddenly, unexpectedly, you found the arms of terrifying gun-toting, chest-bearing Russian president Vladimir Putin wrapping a shawl around your shoulders? Think fast! Because that's the position Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan recently found herself in.
Foreign Policy reports that this diplomatic kerfuffle unfolded as various world leaders attending the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit in Bejing gathered for an evening fireworks display. Here is video of the most awkward dinnertime interaction since Tsar Alexander barfed on Metternich's dancing shoes during the Congress of Vienna, which is a pivotal world-historical moment I just made up:
I'm not sure I can imagine anything more jarring that Vladimir Putin's arms suddenly hovering anywhere near my shoulders. For one thing, the dude probably bathes in tiger musk. Look at Peng's expression, which says loud and clear, "Oh, so this is happening. OK." Note that she waited mere moments before passing it off to someone nearby.
Obviously, everyone watching the CCTV broadcast caught this very strange moment of attempted chivalry, and it quickly began making the media rounds. And just as quickly, censors made it disappear:
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.
Nor, the Washington Post points out, is this the first time the pair have been caught on camera looking almost flirty. Skip to the end of this video and watch as Vlad presents Peng with some flowers:
But maybe everybody's being really unfair. Perhaps Putin was just trying to compensate for this famously ungallant moment:
Besides, nothing will ever compare to George W. Bush giving Angela Merkel a fucking neck massage.
Images via Getty, AP.