Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Provenance of Ivanka’s ‘proverb’ baffles Chinese internet users

Provenance of Ivanka’s ‘proverb’ baffles Chinese internet users

Chinese social media users are scratching their heads over a "Chinese proverb" U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter and adviser Ivanka posted to Twitter as her father prepared for his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. However, criticism was fairly tame in regards to the misquote, actually leading more people to spark an interest in helpfully trying to guess which actual Chinese proverb she might have meant to quote.

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.

But it didn't take long for Twitter users to point out one glaring problem - there is no evidence to suggest the "proverb" was either ancient, or Chinese.

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

Suggestions included, "A true gentleman should keep silent while watching a chess game", while another said "If you can do it, do it; if you can't, shut up".

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

"Fake" Chinese proverb Ivanka where did u get this???", one user wrote, while another added: "This is not a real Chinese proverb but it's nice to know you can use google for fake quotes".

In China, where Twitter is blocked, screenshots of Ivanka's saying circulated on the social media site Weibo.

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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.

On the internet, there are a number of other instances of the quote being described as a Chinese proverb.

"That definitely is a falsely attributed proverb", Larry Herzberg, the director of Asian studies at Calvin College and a professor of Chinese language, told ABC News. "But why are Trump WH aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit?"

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

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

She hired a Chinese-speaking nanny to tutor her daughter.

The ridicule was present stateside, too, where conservative writer and ardent Trump critic Bill Kristol lambasted her over the proverb.

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