The F9 star was in Taiwan promoting his new movie when a comment he made about the sovereign island sparked outrage in China

May 25, 2021 01:00 PM
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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.

John Cena
JB Lacroix/WireImage

"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.

The sequel sees Vin Diesel return as Dominic Toretto, who's leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son, Brian. But Dom's peaceful life is soon upended with the appearance of his estranged brother Jakob Toretto, played by Cena.