Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Ivanka Trump mocked for sharing ‘Chinese proverb’ that isn’t actually Chinese

Ahead of her father's historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, Ivanka Trump has tweeted out an important piece of wisdom from an ancient Chinese sage: "Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those doing it".

In a Weibo post, the Global Times newspaper also traced the origins of Trump's phrase to a 1903 news article, and said: "The truth is that the phrase quoted by Ivanka has actually no relation to China".

Ms Trump, whose daughter is learning Mandarin, attributed the quote to "Chinese Proverb" along with her post on Twitter, published hours before her father came together with Mr Kim to seek an end to a tense decades-old nuclear stand-off.

Ivanka is idolized by many people in China, where she is referred to by the Chinese characters 伊万卡 - pronounced "Yi Wan Ka" - and even described as a "goddess".

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".

Some suggested classic idioms like "A true gentleman should keep silent while watching a chess game".

But some weren't as helpful, with one asking Ivanka if she found her quote via a fortune cookie. "Please help!" the news channel for Sina - the company behind Weibo - wrote on its official social media account.

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"[My editor] really can't think of what exactly this proverb is".

"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts", she wrote, attributing the quote to Einstein, before quickly being informed by other Twitter users that this was not an Einstein quote.

As first daughter and a senior adviser to her father, Ivanka has frequently emphasised her connection to China and Chinese culture.

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

Some internet users mocked Ivanka for her tweet.

Instead, it sparked a backlash from Twitter users who ridiculed Ivanka for her apparent lack of cultural awareness.

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 previous year.

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