Elon Musk Keeps Fans Guessing by Tweeting Mysterious Chinese Poem

Elon Musk Keeps Fans Guessing by Tweeting Mysterious Chinese Poem

Elon Musk is notorious for his cryptic tweets that set the internet on fire. He's now doing it in a different language.

On Monday night, Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted an old Chinese poem. Musk's post, headlined "Humankind," includes a composition known as the "Quatrain of Seven Steps." It's unclear what allusion Musk was making. The poem, which is well-known in China, is about a quarrel between brothers.

It's sometimes credited to Cao Zhi, the son of an ancient Chinese commander who lived during the Three Kingdoms period (220 to 280 AD). Cao's elder brother, a newly minted king, is said to have been envious of Cao's abilities. Suspecting that his brother was attempting to overthrow his throne, the monarch made him write a poem in the time it took him to take seven steps.

The rhyme translates into English as follows:

"Beanstalks are burned to cook beans
The beans weep in the pot
Enter your email to receive CNN's nightcap newsletter.
We grow from the same root
Why should we boil each other with such impatience?"


A request for comment from Tesla and SpaceX was not immediately returned.

Musk's post drew a lot of attention from both Western and Chinese social media users. On Tuesday, it was a trending topic on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform.

Musk's charm offensive in China

Musk has long admired Chinese culture, admiring its efficiency and investing hard to make China one of Tesla's most important markets.

In July, he congratulated the government on the ruling Chinese Communist Party's major anniversary, tweeting: "China progress is absolutely remarkable, particularly in terms of infrastructure! I strongly encourage folks to come see for themselves."

That occurred months after the world's richest man gave a rare interview to a Chinese official television in which he lavished praise on Beijing and predicted that it will "become the world's largest economy." Musk also predicts that the country will become Tesla's most important market in the future.

However, the electric carmaker has had a difficult year in that country. According to a trade group, Tesla sales in China fell this summer. As a result, some opponents believe its prospects in the world's largest car market are dwindling.

Nearly all of Tesla's vehicles made and sold in China since the company opened its Gigafactory in Shanghai were recalled in June due to concerns about the cruise control system. Because buyers were not required to return their vehicles, the setback was less severe than a traditional recall.

However, it led to a slew of negative publicity for the company, which was targeted by Tesla owners at the country's largest auto show in April. Chinese regulators have questioned the quality of Tesla's Shanghai-built Model 3s, and the Chinese military has reportedly increased its inspection of the company.