Elon Musk tweet of ancient Chinese poem 'The Quatrain of Seven Steps' stirs confusion

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Tesla CEO and newly-minted world’s richest person Elon Musk sparked debate after posting an ancient Chinese quatrain on Twitter and Weibo.

The reference: Musk shared the English word “Humankind” and the untranslated Chinese text of the Seven Steps Verse, a poem which is said to have been written in the 3rd century.

  • The poem, which is widely known in China, contains an allegory about boiling beans with a broader message condemning the inhumane way people treat one another.

  • Legend says the poem was written by Cao Zhi, a prince during the Three Kingdoms Period, who wrote the verses to convince his older brother, the emperor, to spare his life.

  • The post received over 100 million views on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, where Musk has 1.9 million followers.

  • The poem translates to "Beanstalks are burned to cook beans / The beans weep in the pot / We grow from the same root / Why should we boil each other with such impatience?" according to CNN.

The speculation: Musk is currently engaged in various online debates, leading to uncertainty about what the cryptic message references.

  • The most recent headline involving Musk’s Twitter account related to his exchange with the United Nations’ World Food Program.

  • Musk challenged the U.N. World Food Program to total transparency around how they spend money, claiming if they had a precise plan to end world hunger, he would donate $6 billion toward it.

  • Users on the Chinese social media platform Weibo speculated as to whether the verse he posted related to this conversation or to earlier debates about cryptocurrency.

Elon Musk enjoys popularity in China, and has often been involved with, and is sometimes the subject of, online speculation and controversy.

Featured Image via Tesla

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