In this Nov. 10, 2014 file photo, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, right, puts a shawl on Peng Liyuan, left, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping as they arrive to watch a fireworks show after a welcome banquet for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing. It was a warm gesture on a chilly night when Vladimir Putin wrapped a shawl around the wife of Xi Jinping while the Chinese president chatted with Barack Obama. The only problem: Putin came off looking gallant, the Chinese summit host gauche and inattentive. (AP Photo, File)

In this Nov. 10, 2014 file photo, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, right, puts a shawl on Peng Liyuan, left, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping as they arrive to watch a fireworks show after a welcome banquet for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.(AP Photo, File)

On a day when China sought to claim a grander role on the world stage in managing global commerce, a seemingly thoughtful gesture by the Russian president ended up awkwardly upstaging his Chinese counterpart.

At a chilly outdoors event at the Asia-Pacific summit in Beijing, Russian leader Vladimir Putin took it upon himself Tuesday to wrap a shawl around the shoulders of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s wife.

She accepted with a broad smile, but quickly removed the shawl and accepted one from her own attendants.

The incident became instant fodder for jokes, as it made Putin look gallant and Xi (who was conversing with Barack Obama) inattentive to his wife.

China's President Xi Jinping (L) gestures to US President Barack Obama (R) as they enter a room before a meeting after participating in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing on November 11, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Kim Kyung-HoonKIM KYUNG-HOON/AFP/Getty Images

China’s President Xi Jinping (L) gestures to US President Barack Obama (R) as they enter a room before a meeting after participating in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing on November 11, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Kim Kyung-HoonKIM KYUNG-HOON/AFP/Getty Images

Off-color jokes added to the cringe factor, as many Chinese women see the divorced Putin as a sexy macho man, and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan was a glamorous recording star before her husband became a somebody.

“China is traditionally conservative on public interaction between unrelated men and women, and the public show of consideration by Putin may provide fodder for jokes, which the big boss probably does not like,” Beijing-based historian and independent commentator Zhang Lifan explained.

Video of the incident was removed from China’s CCTV and scrubbed from China’s censored Internet.