Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Ivanka Trump Tweets a ‘Chinese Proverb,’ Only It’s Not Actually Chinese

Ivanka Trump Donald Mark Wilson Getty Images
Adrian Cunningham | 13 June, 2018, 10:24

She wrote on Monday: "Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those doing it", attributing the phrase simply as "Chinese Proverb". Her six-year-old daughter, Arabella Kushner, became an online sensation by singing ballads in Mandarin and reciting Chinese poetry in a video that was shown to President Xi Jinping during Donald Trump's visit to Beijing last year.

In China, as the tweet made the rounds, many people were baffled, with some calling it a "fake proverb".

But digital sleuths in the USA and China said there is no evidence such a pearl of wisdom originated in China.

The first daughter and senior presidential adviser sent off what seemed to be a note of encouragement as her dad sat down in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But criticism was more muted, with many people appearing more interested in helpfully trying to guess which actual Chinese idiom she might have meant to use.

On social media site Weibo, some quoted similar sayings that are popular in China, such as: " Don't give advice while watching others playing a chess game".

But her mysterious proverb was panned on Weibo.

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Immediately, thousands of users began to offer their suggestions as to what proverb the tweet might have been an attempt at quoting, but no one could verify its authenticity. "Some said, 'maybe Ivanka saw it on a fortune cookie, ' which despite the name isn't of Chinese origin either".

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". Since then, the quote has gone through a number of variations and attributions.

"Three minutes of googling suggests this is a fake Chinese Proverb".

The quote Ivanka invoked on Tuesday has also been attributed to non-Chinese sages like George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright.

The website QuoteInvestigator.com, run by Garson O'Toole, found in 2015 that it may have originated in the United States in the early 1900s as a way of commenting on the innovation of the era.

"Why are Trump WH aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit?"