After President Donald Trump’s landmark sit-down with notorious recluse North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to discuss easing tensions between the two nations, the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, decided to take to Twitter to share a quote she attributed to the situation that she claimed to be of Chinese origin, but in actuality is not.
In a report posted by the New York Times, the daughter and advisor to the president on job creation, economic empowerment, workforce development, and entrepreneurship shared the tweet with her 5.7 million followers yesterday, June 11, as a response to the positive feedback the president was receiving for actually meeting with the North Korean leader to talk denuclearization and overall peace.
“Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.” -Chinese Proverb
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) June 11, 2018
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.
Subsequently after, a 2015 report by Quote Investigator, a service dedicated to getting to the bottom of the origin of specific quotes, was brought to light as addressing a statement highly similar to the one tweeted, and it was found that the closest actual similar quote to what the president’s daughter posted had actually originated in the United States in the 20th century, not in a Chinese proverb.
In China, as Trump’s tweet was shared and reposted, many natives were baffled, calling the workforce development aid out for her “fake proverb.” 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 intended to quote.
Some guessed that Trump referenced the quote “A true gentleman should keep silent while watching a chess game.” As the discussion grew, some pointed to other popular sayings in China, such as “If you can do it, do it; if you can’t, shut up.”
Three minutes of googling suggests this is a fake Chinese Proverb. It seems in fact to be American from the turn of the 20th c.—which makes sense, since its spirit is can-do Americanism. But why are Trump WH aides giving our proverbs to China, increasing our proverb deficit? https://t.co/bqjbZhXlQr
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 11, 2018
This is also not the first time that Trump has come under fire for misquoting something as having a Chinese origin. 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.”
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.
Despite the controversy surrounding her misquotes, the president’s daughter has shared quite an interest in China and Chinese culture for quite some time. She has hired a Chinese speaking nanny to raise and help coach her daughter in the language, as well as amassing a fan base of young Chinese women who are fans of her success in life and as a fashion designer. She is also admired amongst fans as a symbol of elegance.