Peng Liyuan Xi Jinping Vladimir Putin Coat Blanket
Russia's President Vladimir Putin helps put a blanket on Peng Liyuan, wife of China's President Xi Jinping, at the Apec meeting in BeijingReuters

China's celebrity first lady caused a headache to the country's censors, as she became the recipient an unsolicited gallant gesture from Russia's single President Vladimir Putin that sent the internet abuzz.

Peng Liyuan was seemingly cold as she sat in between her president husband, Xi Jinping, and Putin at a dinner that kick-started the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing.

As Xi was distracted chatting with US President Barack Obama, seated at his right, at his left his folk singer wife entered into a conversation with the action-loving Kremlin leader.

A few seconds into the brief exchange, which was captured on camera by the indiscreet lens of China state-run CCTV television, Putin stands up and chivalrously wraps a blanket around Peng's shoulders.

The first lady receives the garment smiling, just to slip it off a few moments later, handing it to an aid in exchange of a coat.

"We just saw President Putin draping a coat on Peng Liyuan," a CCTV commentator explained to her audience.

Video: Vladimir Putin Offers Shawl to China's First Lady Peng LiyuanIBTimes UK

The video was reposted by many Chinese news outlets and soon went viral online, to the alarm of Beijing's restless censors.

Officials must have found Putin's behaviour inappropriate, as a few hours after the initial broadcast the video was taken down by news websites and related social media postings were deleted.

The KGB spy's image as a single, thrill-seeking alpha male, who drives Formula One race cars, goes whale-hunting with a crossbow, poses for photos with a polar bear, rides a horse bare-chested, and shoots tigers might have helped the axe-wielding process.

Chinese censors have had a hard time coping with the internet frenzy surrounding Peng, since she became the first wife to break with the Communist party's tradition of first ladies standing quietly behind their husbands.

Party officials have struggled in finding the correct balance between allowing the 51-year-old - a hugely popular figure in China - to carry out her undeclared mission to build soft power and maintaining the traditional façade of austerity that party propaganda imposes.

Putin announced his marriage to Lyudmila was over in June last year and the couple finalised their divorce a few months later.

Unconfirmed rumours he is in a relationship with Olympic gold gymnast Alina Kabayeva have circulated ever since.