Ivanka Trump tweets Chinese proverb believed to be American

The only problem is, no one knew where the "proverb" came from.

"'Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those doing it.' -Chinese Proverb", Ivanka posted on Monday, the night before her father and Kim came together to seek an end to a tense decadesold nuclear stand-off.

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.

Rather than impressed by the tweet, however, users on China's social media sites were puzzled at whether this was a Chinese saying at all.

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

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".

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. A pseudo-Confucian version was fabricated in 1962 - perhaps explaining why Ms Trump believed it was a Chinese proverb.


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 her mysterious proverb was panned on Weibo.

"Maybe she saw it in a Panda Express fortune cookie", one person joked.

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".

'One proverb from Ivanka has exhausted the brain cells of all Chinese internet users, ' a commenter admitted. "It seems in fact to be American from the turn of the 20th c. -which makes sense, since its spirit is can-do Americanism", he tweeted.

'But why are Trump WH (White House) aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit?' he quipped.

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