Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Ivanka Trump tweets ‘Chinese proverb’ that doesn’t actually exist

Ivanka Trump tweets ‘Chinese proverb’ that doesn’t actually exist

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". 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. Others, however, think this popular saying in China could be what Ivanka was referring to: "If you can do it, do it; if you can't, shut up".

Herzberg, who has written a book on Chinese proverbs, said that the first known reference to this quote comes from an American newspaper article published in 1903.

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 user wrote: "It makes sense, but I still don't know which proverb it is".

Confucius says Ivanka Trump made a proverbial social media gaffe. Some said it could have been "Don't give advice while watching others playing a chess game".

"Maybe she saw it in a Panda Express fortune cookie", one person joked. According to the findings of Quote Investigator, it is often attributed to the Irish author George Bernard Shaw.

Although we're not an encyclopedia for Chinese proverbs, something seemed fishy, especially to Ivanka's followers on Twitter.

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

White House Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump arrives for the launch of first lady Melania Trump's "Be Best" initiative in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, May 7, 2018.

Ivanka's tweet was meant to celebrate the historic talks. In 2013, for example, she posted on Twitter, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life", attributing the phrase to Confucius. Once again, Chinese Twitter users were sent perusing through their own cultural tomes to no avail.

However, critics in the United States were quick to point out that the quote was not of Chinese origin after all, and that people really weren't sure where it had actually originated.

And she even hired a Chinese-speaking nanny to tutor her daughter, Arabella.

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