Ivanka Trump's 'Chinese proverb' baffles China

Adjust Comment Print

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.

The president's elder daughter fired off a celebratory message hours ahead of his historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Actual Chinese netizens debated the possible Chinese source, if any, of Trump's tweet.

But users of social media in China, were unable to identify the saying, according to the AFP news agency.

"'Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those doing it.' - Chinese Proverb", the first daughter wrote in a tweet that quickly went viral for apparently being fake. Some said it could have been "Don't give advice while watching others playing a chess game".

Maybe she just saw it on a fortune cookie?

It's not the first time she has incorrectly described a quotation as Chinese. Since then, the quote has gone through a number of variations and attributions.

Ivanka Trump's family has a lot of fans in China.

Larry Herzberg, a professor of Chinese at Calvin College in MI, said Ivanka's tweet was "yet one more example of Americans ascribing a quote to the Chinese, often to Confucius, when they don't really know the origin of the saying".

"It sounds more legitimate and credible to pronounce a quote coming from the ancient civilization of China", he added. It was molded over the years to its current form, the quote-focused website found, at one point being attributed to Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw.

Quote Investigator suggests that it first appeared in 1903, in a periodical called The Public, from Chicago, and referred to the innovations taking place during that time.

In the United States, with its highly charged political atmosphere, the tweet drew more open mockery. "But why are Trump WH aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit?"