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Opinion
Shuli Ren

Forget Elon Musk. China’s Billionaires Aren’t Poets Either.

Meituan’s CEO posts an 1,100-year old poem about a 2,200-year old event and his company stock plummets.

Meituan CEO Wang Xing: Not ready for prime time.

Meituan CEO Wang Xing: Not ready for prime time.

Photographer: VCG/Getty Images

Irreverence has worked out very well for Elon Musk. He can disparage the Securities and Exchange Commission on Twitter yet come off as cool. Recent tweets sent the market value of Dogecoin, a digital token created as a joke, almost “to the moon.” Millions of loyal, young followers have rallied around him to buy Tesla Inc. shares, making Musk the world’s second richest man. 

Such billionaire behavior is not profitable in China, where talk can be expensive. Last year, a speech critical of its largely state-owned banking sector cost Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma a $45 billion IPO. On Monday, an 1,100-year old poem about events 2,200 years ago posted by the founder of food delivery giant Meituan sank the company’s market cap by $15.6 billion. China’s tech billionaires should not attempt to be erudite, much less cool.