John Cena Apologizes to China After Calling Taiwan a Country: 'I'm Sorry for My Mistake'
The F9 star was in Taiwan promoting his new movie when a comment he made about the sovereign island sparked outrage in China
John Cena is apologizing for a comment he made that sparked outrage in China.
On Tuesday, the F9 star went on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform, to apologize after receiving backlash for a comment he made in a previous interview where he called Taiwan a country.
"I'm sorry for my mistake," Cena said in the video while speaking Mandarin. "I must say now, [it's] very, very, very, very important [that] I love, and respect even more, China and the Chinese people."
The former WWE star's apology came after he called Taiwan a country while promoting the ninth Fast & Furious movie on a Taiwanese broadcast channel, which elicited outrage from Chinese critics and fans.
"Taiwan is the first country that can watch F9," Cena told the broadcaster in Mandarin.
Taiwan has been a self-governed democratic island since the end of the Chinese Civil War over 70 years ago, but it's still considered by Beijing as a territory claimed by the People's Republic of China. Any suggestion of Taiwan's independence is considered a major offense by China.
The U.S., however, has long supported Taiwan's democratic government in more indirect ways and maintains unofficial diplomatic ties — a kind of compromise given the dispute over its sovereignty. The issue is increasingly seen as a potential flashpoint between China and America.
The backlash came after F9 debuted in 8 markets with $162.4 million worldwide ahead of its June 25 opening in the U.S., with the movie bringing in $135.6 million from China alone, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
F9 counts the biggest opening since the pandemic era, a sign movie theaters will indeed bounce back this summer after a lengthy closing due to the COVID-19 health crisis.