Fast & Furious star and wrestler John Cena started learning Mandarin Chinese almost ten years ago. But this month, showing his language skills in Taiwan, he got into trouble in mainland China.
On Tuesday, Cena apologized for calling Taiwan a “country” in an interview he gave to a Taiwanese broadcaster earlier this month, saying it was inappropriate.
“I made a mistake, I must say right away. It’s so so so so important, I love and respect the Chinese, ”Cena told his 600,000 fans on his Chinese Weibo account. “I am very sorry for my mistakes. Sorry. Sorry. I am really sorry. You must understand that I love and respect China and the Chinese people. “
China regards Taiwan as an integral part of its own territory and rejects any reference to the autonomous island as an independent state.
In recent years, the international rhetoric about Taiwan has intensified. An increasing number of individuals and businesses have been caught up in defining Taiwan’s status. The 17-time WWE Professional Wrestling Champion is the latest high profile Westerner to find himself at the center of the political storm and public opinion.
The controversy began when Cena earlier this month told Taiwanese channel TVBS in Mandarin that, “Taiwan is the first country to be able to watch F9,” in reference to his latest film, Fast & Furious 9.
China is the world’s largest film market. Over the weekend, the film – which has yet to air in the US – grossed at least $ 135.6million (£ 96million) in China alone, making it one of the biggest openings for a Hollywood film since the coronavirus pandemic.
Showing the importance of the Chinese market to the film’s producers as well as investors, lead actor Vin Diesel told state-run Xinhua News Agency that the film’s premiere in China one month before North America North was due to the fact that those behind the work regarded China as their family. “It’s kind of a show of gratitude to the family,” he said.
In the same interview with Xinhua, Cena revealed that part of the upcoming Fast & Furious installment “will be filmed in China.”
On Weibo, the news of Cena’s apology in Mandarin became one of the most talked-about topics on Tuesday. The hashtag #John Cena apologizes in Chinese after calling Taiwan a country has been viewed almost 840,000 times.
More than 10,000 commentators have left remarks under his apology video. While some expressed their understanding, others were not impressed. “… You are evasive. You cannot break the Chinese pot by eating Chinese rice, ”Mu Rao Feng wrote.
“Please say ‘Taiwan is part of China’ in Mandarin,” Tai Wa Dai Shi said, “otherwise we won’t accept it. The comment generated over 7,300 likes and over 1,000 follow-up comments.