Shares in Chinese food delivery giant Meituan have fallen sharply after its boss reportedly share a 1,000-year-old poem on social media.
The Book Burning Pit by Zhang Jie was posted, then deleted, by the firm’s billionaire chief executive, Wang Xing.
The Tang dynasty poem was interpreted as a veiled criticism of President Xi Jinping’s government.
Meituan is currently under investigation over allegations of abusing its market dominance.
The company is one of China’s biggest takeaway food delivery and lifestyle services platforms and is backed by technology giant Tencent.
Chinese media reported that after deleting the post on Sunday from the Fanfou social media platform, Wang issued a clarification, saying that the poem was a reference to his company’s competitors.
Despite the statement, Meituan’s Hong Kong-listed shares have fallen by around 14% since the market opened on Monday morning.
Investors are jittery as Chinese business leaders who have been seen to criticise the government have found their companies come under intense scrutiny.
The English translation of the poem:
The Qin Dynasty is ruined with the burning of bamboos and fabrics.
The Hangu Pass and the Yellow River guarded the residence of the ancestor of the Chinese dragon in vain.
It turned out that Liu Bang and Xiang Yu were both uneducated people.
Written by the famous late Tang dynasty poet Zhang Jie, the Book Burning Pit is a sarcastic criticism of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who ruled China hundreds of years earlier.