TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — American professional wrestler and actor John Cena apologized profusely in Mandarin on Tuesday (May 25) after Chinese netizens became enraged over his reference to Taiwan as a country.
On May 8, TVBS released a video of Cena excitedly promoting the film "Fast & Furious 9" in Mandarin for Taiwanese audiences. In the video, Cena emphasized that "Taiwan will be the first country to see 'Fast & Furious 9," and speaking to Taiwanese viewers, he reiterated, "You are the first to see this movie."
However, after a massive surge in cases that occurred one week later, Taipei and New Taipei on May 15 declared Level 3 restrictions, which were expanded nationwide by May 19. The film was originally supposed to premiere in Taiwan on May 19, but it was postponed indefinitely as Level 3 measures put an end to all movie showings across the nation.
Meanwhile, in China, where there is an ongoing outbreak of local COVID-19 cases in Anhui Province and Liaoning Province, the film's premiere was held on May 21. The Taiwanese video eventually made its way to social media in China, enraging Chinese netizens with comments such as "You can't speak Chinese, please shut up."
A press conference prior to the premier slated for May 18 in Shanghai was canceled due to "threats," reported Apple Daily. Fearing an impact at the box office revenues in the lucrative China market, Cena posted a video on Weibo in which he lamented in Mandarin that he had done many interviews to promote the movie and during one of them had "made a mistake."
He then stressed that "I love and respect China and Chinese people." Cena went on to say that he was "very sorry for my mistake" and reiterated his love for China and its people.
However, many Chinese netizens were not satisfied by his apology because he did not mention their perceived status of Taiwan:
"What mistake did you make, please explain what it was."
"Foreign slaves are disgraceful."
"Changed his tune just for money, get the hell out of China."
"Actually, it's better to post a video in which you say that Taiwan is a part of China. Apologizing is useless."
"When he's in Taiwan Province he says it's a country, when he's in China he says he respects Chinese people. He's two-faced and I don't understand why Chinese people are so lenient with him."
"China cares most about territorial issues, this is our bottom line."
"Unless you say in Chinese, 'Taiwan is part of China,' we will not accept your apology."
Post from Cena's official Weibo account apologizing to his fans for his "mistake." (Weibo screenshot)
Cena's apology with English subtitles:
Cena's apology with Chinese subtitles: