Published: Thu, June 14, 2018

Ivanka Trump's 'Chinese proverb' tweet mystifies China

Ivanka Trump's 'Chinese proverb' tweet mystifies China

Donald Trump's daughter posted a quote from what she said was a Chinese proverb on Monday. 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.

Ivanka and her daughter, Arabella, are popular in China after videos of the 6-year-old singing in Mandarin and reciting ancient Chinese poetry have gone viral in the past. 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.

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".

They also offered some snarky commentary, including one person who said, "Don't mistake something as a Chinese proverb simply because it's written in Chinese characters".

The quote Ivanka invoked on Tuesday has also been attributed to non-Chinese sages like George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright.

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

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.


Weibo users were quick to notice the quote was not actually Chinese.

"One proverb from Ivanka has exhausted the brain cells of all Chinese internet users", another wrote on Weibo.

Meanwhile, US journalist Bill Kristol pointed out that the proverb could actually have originated in America. "But why are Trump WH aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit?"

According to the BBC, the tweet is not Ivanka Trump's first apparent misattribution to Chinese lore.

Maybe next time, she will fact-check herself before she tweets - a lesson we all have to learn at some point. In 2013, she posted to Twitter the quote, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life".

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, with Ivanka Trump at far left, at dinner at Mar-a-Lago a year ago.

Like this: