John Cena has issued an apology after mistakenly referred to Taiwan as “a country” during a press interview for Fast and Furious 9 (F9).
Cena, published an apology video to Weibo, China’s popular social media platform, after facing backlash for his statement.
Cena told the interviewer that “Taiwan was the first country that can watch F9” and this sparked outrage as Beijing considers any suggestion of Taiwan’s independence a “red line”. China considers the island of self-governed Taiwan as part of its territory, and opposes the suggestion that it is a country in its own right.
In his apology video, Cena spoke in Mandarin and said:
“I’m sorry for my mistake. I must say now, [it’s] very, very, very, very important [that] I love, and respect even more, China and the Chinese people.”
He notably did not refer to Taiwan by name or discuss the TBVS interview in depth in the Weibo video.
Cena admitted that he had “made a mistake” and blamed the mishap on the fact that he did “a lot of interviews” in preparation for F9’s release.
Cena plays the role of Jakob Toretto, the brother of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel).
The prompt issue of Cena’s apology reflects the power that China holds over Hollywood and its box office success. However, it didn’t seem to majorly impact the opening weekend figures in mainland China, with the ninth instalment of the world-renowned franchise taking nearly $136 million.
These figures mean that F9 has become the biggest opening for a Hollywood film during the pandemic.
According to CNN, Cena’s apology has accumulated roughly 7,000 responses on Weibo so far, with some still angry about his comments:
“Please say ‘Taiwan is part of China’ in Chinese, otherwise we will not accept.”
Another accused his ‘vague political stance’:
“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 wrote.”
Cena has more than 600,000 followers on Weibo and has been studying Chinese for years, often posting videos on the social media platform in which he speaks the language while doing movie promotion."
Fast & Furious 9 is set for UK release on 24 June.
Watch a trailer for Fast & Furious 9