Provenance of Ivanka's 'proverb' baffles Chinese internet users

Postado Junho 12, 2018

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".

Ivanka Trump on Monday tweeted a "Chinese proverb" to mark the historic meeting between Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un.

China's Internet quickly lit up, puzzled rather than flattered by the reference.

"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". "But why are Trump WH aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit?"

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

It refers to a fable about a man who persisted in his attempt to level a mountain he found inconvenient by dogged digging.

However, despite Ivanka's attribution, there is no evidence that this quote comes from China and it doesn't match any Chinese proverb that we know of. A pseudo-Confucian version was fabricated in 1962 - perhaps explaining why Ms Trump believed it was a Chinese proverb. 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 Mr Trump's visit to Beijing last year.

On Weibo, Chinese users struggled to figure out what proverb she meant.

'She saw it in a fortune cookie at Panda Express, ' one user wrote.

Another said: "It makes sense, but I still don't know which proverb it is". Only catch? Chinese Twitter users couldn't recognise the "proverb" as one of their own.

Bill Kristol, editor of the United States political magazine the Weekly Standard, tweeted a guess that the phrase "seems in fact to be American from the turn of the 20th c. - which makes sense, since its spirit is can-do Americanism".