Actor and WWE star John Cena apologized to China in Chinese on Monday for calling Taiwan a country during an appearance in which he was promoting his new film “Fast & Furious 9” in front of Taiwanese audiences.
“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 was a lot of interviews and information,” Cena says in Chinese, according to a translation from the South China Morning Post.
“I made one mistake. 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.”
The video was posted to Chinese social media site Weibo.
According to Taiwan News, during a promotional appearance on Taiwanese TV, Cena excitedly noted that “Taiwan will be the first country to see ‘Fast & Furious 9.” He later reiterated to Taiwanese viewers, “You are the first to see this movie,” which is directed by Taiwanese-American Justin Lin.
Cena faced intense backlash from Chinese audiences on social media, prompting the star to post the apology video.
The message wasn’t enough for some users of the Chinese social media platform Weibo, including one who wrote, “Please say in Chinese that Taiwan is part of China. Otherwise, we won’t accept it.” The comment has garnered over 3,200 likes.
“Then you should say Taiwan is China’s!” another user stated. “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.”
Governing itself as an independent nation, Taiwan has had a tense relationship with China, which maintains a sovereignty claim over the island. The U.S. has recognized China’s sovereignty claim through the One-China policy, though U.S. administrations have had informal interactions with Taiwanese officials.
In April, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned President Joe Biden’s administration against getting involved in Taiwan.
“The Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and core interests. There is zero room for compromise and not an inch to give,” Zhao said during a press conference.
“We urge the U.S. side to grasp the situation, earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, refrain from playing with fire, immediately stop official contact with Taiwan in any form, prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues, and avoid sending any wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces, lest it should shake the foundation of China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”