F9 star John Cena apologizes for calling Taiwan a country, but Chinese fans still furious
American professional wrestler, actor, and television presenter John Cena who appears in ‘F9’ or ‘Fast & Furious 9’, has issued an apology to his Chinese fans. This comes after the 44-year-old actor had called Taiwan a country on Taiwanese broadcasting network TVBS during a promotional tour for ‘Fast & Furious 9’. "Taiwan is the first country that can watch F9," Cena told the broadcaster in Mandarin.
Cena posted a video message on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website, clarifying his comments and apologizing to his fans. “Hi China, I’m John Cena. I’m in the middle of ‘Fast and Furious 9’ promotions. I’m doing a lot of interviews. I made a mistake in one of my interviews. Everyone was asking me if I could use Chinese – [movie] staff gave me a lot of information, so there were a lot of interviews and information,” said Cena in Mandarin as translated by the South China Morning Post.
John Cena apologized in Chinese on Sina Weibo after calling Taiwan a country during an interview promoting Fast & Furious 9 pic.twitter.com/dzRKIYgEzL— Joe Xu (@JoeXu) May 24, 2021
Cena reportedly started learning Mandarin to help his wrestling promotion’s integration in China. “I made one mistake,” Cena said in the video. I have to say something very, very, very important now. I love and respect China and Chinese people. I’m very, very sorry about my mistake. I apologize, I apologize, I’m very sorry. You must understand that I really love, really respect China and the Chinese people. My apologies. See you.” Cena, of course, made no mention of Taiwan in his apology video.
Taiwan is a self-governed democratic island but its political status is ambiguous. The current administration of Taiwan maintains that the region is an independent country, whether or not independence is ever officially declared. “Taiwan’s government is democratically elected—we have a president, we have a parliament,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in a foreign press briefing in 2019. "We issue visas, we issue passports,” he said, adding, “We have a military and a currency … Taiwan exists by itself; Taiwan is not a part of any other country.”
However, the Chinese government sees Taiwan, also called the 'Republic of China,' as a breakaway province that will eventually be part of the country again. The Chinese government does not like Taiwan being referred to as an independent nation, even though President Joe Biden's administration has said its commitment to Taiwan is "rock solid".
CNN reported that Cena's apology video had more than 7,000 responses on Sina Weibo, with many still angry about his remarks. "Please say 'Taiwan is part of China' in Chinese, otherwise we will not accept," one person reportedly wrote. "I don't understand why the Chinese people should be so tolerant to him, who has a vague political stance while profiting from Chinese people," another user reportedly wrote.
SCMP reported how one Sina Weibo user said, “Then you should say Taiwan is China’s! What you have said in the video is nonsense. You can’t take benefits from China, but in the meantime, do things to harm China’s interests.”
One Sina Weibo user reportedly said, "Looking at his previous interviews, I can feel that he really likes China. He said the wrong thing and paid the price. He is different from other foreign actors who dare not respond or have different political opinions." Another user said, “I like you. I think you truly love China. Don’t talk carelessly again about China’s territory and sovereignty.”