Hollywood star and WWE superstar John Cena apologized to his Chinese fans on Monday for referring to Taiwan as a country in an interview a few weeks ago on Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS. China still refuses to recognize Taiwan as its own country.
“Taiwan is the first country that can watch the ninth installment of the Fast & Furious movie franchise,” Cena said in Mandarin in a May 8 interview on TVBS. He learned Mandarin so he could promote WWE enterprises in China.
Cena corrected his “mistake” in a video message to Chinese fans on the Chinese Twitter-like social media app Weibo.
“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,” Cena said, according to a translation by 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,” Cena went on. “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 move resembles a few others made by filmmakers and sports leagues to keep the Chinese Communist Party happy. Popular magazine Filmmaker was pressured by Disney-owned studio Searchlight to remove a quote on the profile of director Chloé Zhao as it was critical of the authoritarian Chinese government.
Taiwan’s efforts to be recognized as a country continue to be opposed by Beijing. Tensions between the country and the island have continued to grow, with China increasing its Naval presence and capabilities in the waters it shares with Taiwan, the South and East China seas.