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.

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.