Actor John Cena Apologizes to Chinese Fans after Calling Taiwan a ‘Country’ in Interview

Cast member John Cena is interviewed at the premiere for Ferdinand in Los Angeles, Calif., December, 10, 2017. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Actor and WWE star John Cena apologized to Chinese fans on Monday after he referred to Taiwan as a “country” in an interview with Taiwanese network TVBS earlier this month.

“Taiwan is the first country that can watch” the ninth installment of the Fast & Furious movie franchise, Cena said in Mandarin in the TVBS interview on May 8. (Cena learned Mandarin to help promote WWE enterprises in China.)

Cena backtracked in a video message to Chinese fans published on messaging app Weibo.

“Hi China, I’m John Cena. I’m in the middle of Fast and Furious 9 promotions. I’m doing a lot of interviews. I made a mistake in one of my interviews,” Cena said, in comments translated by the South China Morning Post.

“I made one mistake. I have to say something very, very, very important now. I love and respect China and Chinese people,” Cena went on. “I’m very, very sorry about my mistake. I apologize, I apologize, I’m very sorry. You must understand that I really love, really respect China and the Chinese people. My apologies. See you.”

Cena’s comments come after a series of American companies and sports leagues have attempted to tone down criticism of China. Disney-owned studio Searchlight reportedly pressured the Filmmaker magazine to remove a quote from a profile of director Chloé Zhao, because the quote was critical of China’s authoritarian practices.

China does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country, and tensions between the two nations have increased in recent years as China has built islands in the South and East China Seas to expand its naval capabilities. China has continued to increase military and economic pressure on Taiwan during this time.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.