In a video shared on Weibo, a Chinese social platform, on Tuesday, Cena apologized for his remarks in Mandarin – a language he started learning in 2016 to help promote WWE abroad. The supposed blunder in question arose when Cena did a promotional interview for the upcoming ninth film “Fast and Furious” with Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS. In it, Cena told the reporter – also in Mandarin – that “Taiwan is the first country to be able to watch” the film.
Cena’s video on Weibo, in which he apologizes profusely for his recognition of Taiwan’s sovereignty and declares his “love and respect” for “China and the Chinese people,” has since elicited much reaction from right-wing politicians and media figures, who have long criticized Hollywood, the NBA and other institutions for being financially beholden to China.
First criticized by Newsmax and Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire on Tuesday afternoon, Cena’s video was widely shared on Twitter by right-wing political figures ranging from Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton to conservative brand Erick Erickson.
While right-wing media and politicians are quick to criticize all members of the so-called “liberal” media elite, especially out of respect for China, it’s important to contextualize their stacks on Twitter with their politics. Their vocal support for the political agency for Taiwan and Hong Kong, and criticisms of China’s financial influence, have often been directly contradicted by their domestic politics.
Newsmax and other right-wing figures who have criticized Cena have been among the loudest leaders who have tried to help former President Trump overturn the election, and therefore American democracy, last year. Right-wing political leaders like Shapiro has also been one of the most vocal opponents of Palestinian human rights. and sovereignty. And in their criticism of China’s financial influence, elected conservatives like Senator Cotton have also repeatedly opposed legislation to restrict the power of money in politics.
Cena’s unwitting disregard for China isn’t the first time an American actor or celebrity has offended China and had to quickly go into damage control mode. Many industries, and in particular the entertainment industry, have extensive commercial and financial ties with the country and often have to avoid commenting on the politics of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet and other areas in conflict. with the Chinese government. More recently, NBA players from superstars LeBron James to James Harden, who have done business with China, have made statements in defense of China following comments from former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl. Money, in favor of Hong Kong in 2019.
The ninth and final installment “Fast and Furious” is slated for release on June 25 in the US, and will feature Cena reprising his role as Jakob Toretto, alongside Charlize Theron, Vin Diesel, and others.