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Huh? Chinese social media users have been left stumped by Ivanka Trump's 'Chinese proverb'

“Those who say it can not be done should not interrupt those doing it.”

Ivanka Trump
Ivanka Trump
Image: Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA via PA Images

CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA users are scratching their heads over a “Chinese proverb” that US President Donald Trump’s daughter and advisor Ivanka posted to Twitter as her father prepared for his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

“‘Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it’. – Chinese Proverb,” Ivanka posted, just before her father and Kim came together to seek an end to a tense decades-old nuclear stand-off.

China’s internet quickly lit up, puzzled rather than flattered by the reference.

“Our editor really can’t think of exactly which proverb this is. Please help,” the news channel for Sina – the company behind Weibo, China’s largest Twitter-like platform – wrote on its official social media account.

In thousands of comments on Weibo, users preferred scores of different suggestions without arriving at a consensus.

Some suggested the proverb “the foolish old man removed mountains” – a common phrase used to signify perseverance. It refers to a fable about a man who persisted in his attempt to level a mountain he found inconvenient by dogged digging.

Trump family 

Ivanka Trump’s family has a lot of fans in China. 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 Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing last year.

But her mysterious proverb was panned on Weibo.

“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.”

“One proverb from Ivanka has exhausted the brain cells of all Chinese internet users,” a commenter admitted.

Bill Kristol, editor of the US 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”.

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

Irish proverb

This isn’t the first time the Trump family have left people stumped by their use of proverbs.

In March 2017, during his meeting with former Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the White House, Trump recited an old Irish proverb.

“As we stand together with our Irish friends, I’m reminded of a proverb – and this is a good one, this is one I like, I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it,” Trump said.

Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.

A lot of Irish people were left confused by Trump’s proverb, with many claiming they had never heard it before. DailyEdge.ie summed up the confusion Trump’s comment caused here.

© AFP 2018 with reporting by Hayley Halpin. 

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