John Cena has apologized and expressed his love for “China and the Chinese people” after receiving backlash for how he promoted the new “Fast & Furious” film in Taiwan.
According to the BBC, tensions between Taiwan and China date back to the end of World War II, when a civil war began in mainland China. After Mao Zedang’s Communist forces won against former leader Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, the defeated Kuomintang government retreated to the island of Taiwan. The separate administrations have jostled for power and influence on the international stage ever since, although Taiwan is only recognized as an official country by a few nations. And as the BBC observed, China still sees Taiwan as a “breakaway province,” one which it’s willing to retake by “non-peaceful means.”
Cena stumbled into the complicated geopolitical conflict when he spoke to Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS, per CNN. While promoting his upcoming action film, the WWE star told TVBS: “Taiwan is the first country that can watch ‘F9’.” Cena, who will be playing the brother of Vin Diesel’s character Dom Toretto in “F9”, sparked outrage by referring to Taiwan as its own country rather than a Chinese territory. And Chinese fans were quick to respond to this perceived insult on Weibo, the country’s primary social media platform.
John Cena apologized in a Weibo video
Following the backlash against John Cena for calling Taiwan a country, the actor has now made an apology video on Weibo.
As CNN reported, Cena did not refer specifically to his comment about Taiwan or mention the country by name. Instead, he offered a vague apology in Mandarin, which has been reposted on Twitter. In the video, the WWE champion explains that he “did a lot of interviews” and “made a mistake” while promoting F9. “I’m sorry for my mistake,” Cena clarified, according to CNN’s translation. “I must say now, [it’s] very, very, very, very important [that] I love, and respect even more, China and the Chinese people.”
His video received a mixed reaction from commenters on Weibo. “Please say ‘Taiwan is part of China’ in Chinese, otherwise we will not accept,” one critic demanded (via CNN). Another claimed that they “don’t understand why the Chinese people should be so tolerant to him, who has a vague political stance while profiting from Chinese people.”
Some fans defended Cena though, pointing to the fact that he has been learning Mandarin for years and has over 600,000 followers on Weibo, per the BBC. “I can feel that he really likes China,” one wrote. “He said the wrong thing and paid the corresponding price.”
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