American actor and wrestling star John Cena has apologized on Chinese social media after embroiling himself in a geopolitical scandal by referring to Taiwan as a country.
In one (n interview Earlier this month, Cena sparked controversy on Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS while promoting the ninth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise when he said, “Taiwan will be the first country to see Fast and Furious 9.”
Beijing claims the self-governing island as part of its territory and has threatened to annex it – possibly with force. Although Taiwan has its own government, democratic elections, and army, most governments around the world do not recognize it as a country.
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On Tuesday, Cena, 44, posted a video message that he recorded in Mandarin on the Chinese social network Weibo, in which he said that he did a lot of interviews for Fast & Furious 9 and “made a mistake” during one interview.
“I have to say now, it’s very, very, very, very, very, very important,” said Cena. “I love and respect China and the Chinese. I am very, very sorry for my mistake. “
He did not elaborate on what he apologized for or directly mention Taiwan.
Cena has a strong presence on Weibo with more than 600,000 followers. He has been learning Mandarin for several years. According to media reports.
Some Weibo users criticized Cena’s apology, calling it insincere or unconvinced. One wrote, “It’s Western political correctness. He wants the Chinese to forgive him, but he also doesn’t want to offend the idiot Taiwan and the West.”
However, some were more forgiving. “Some of the comments here are really too aggressive,” said one. “I think we should sit down and talk about it less intensively. Foreigners don’t necessarily know China’s politics, just as we don’t necessarily know their politics.”
China is the second largest film market in the world.
The final installment in Universal’s franchise started at a massive $ 162 million in eight markets including China, Korea and Hong Kong. Ticket sales easily mark the best start for a Hollywood blockbuster since the Covid-19 hit.
Universal is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.
China regards Taiwan as an illegitimate breakaway province. When the civil war in China between communists and nationalists ended in 1949 and the former triumphed, the latter formed a rival government in Taipei.
The US does not have official relations with Taiwan, but extensive informal relations. Former President Donald Trump angered Beijing by sending cabinet officials to Taiwan to show his support.
Earlier this year, China stepped up military activities near the island in response to the so-called “secessionist forces” and “collusion” between Taipei and Washington.
The Chinese Communist Party has not ruled out the use of force to bring the island under Beijing’s control.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Dawn Liu contributed.