Ivanka Trump’s ‘Chinese proverb’ tweet mystifies China

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 14, 2018

On the eve of President Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday, Ivanka tweeted, "Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those doing it".

According to the New York Times, Ivanka Trump's tweet also sparked a widespread discussion on Weibo among baffled Chinese netizens who suggested genuine Chinese sayings which might convey a similar meaning to it.

People in China began tweeting other sayings they thought Ivanka might have meant to use.

In just a matter of hours, her tweet was liked by tens of thousands of people, but many were left confused as to why she thought the proverb was Chinese.

One person wrote: 'Ummm that's not a Chinese proverb.

Eventually, the Global Times actually sourced the quote to a 1903 news article, declaring that "the phrase quoted by Ivanka has actually no relation to China". Some said it could have been "Don't give advice while watching others playing a chess game".

Exasperation set in. "She saw it in a fortune cookie at Panda Express", said another.

According to the publication, the quote was first printed in United States newspapers in 1903, while some researchers believe it was created by playwright George Bernard Shaw.

She quoted the tweet as having been said by Confucious, famous Chinese editor, philosopher, and politician when in reality the historical figure never had said anything remotely like that.

Weibo users were quick to notice the quote was not actually Chinese.

Ivanka Trump is finding out that it is not wise to misattribute Chinese proverbs for fear of the wrath of Twitter. "But why are Trump WH aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit?"

Ivanka's tweet was meant to celebrate the historic talks.

Arabella Kushner, her daughter, also became an online sensation in China by reciting Chinese poetry in a video shown to President Xi Jinping during Donald Trump's visit to Beijing past year.

And in March, a photo of Ms Trump donning a lab coat during a visit to a science centre was also mercilessly panned on social media, while in the same month clients threatened to boycott a salon which styled her hair before an event after the owner shared a snap of herself with the President's daughter at the hairdressers' salon.

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