John Cena, the WWE star-turned actor, was bashed online Tuesday after he posted a video to Chinese social media network Sina Weibo apologizing to the Chinese people for referring to Taiwan as a "country."
Oh, and Cena delivered his mea culpa in Mandarin, the official language of China.
While promoting the release of "F9" — the latest installment in the "Fast & Furious" franchise — Cena told Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS that Taiwan would "be the first country to see Fast & Furious 9."
The problem with Cena's statement, according to communist China, is that he acknowledged Taiwan as a sovereign country separate of China. The communist government claims Taiwan as its territory, but Taiwan claims to be a sovereign, self-governing republic. Conflict over Taiwan's status stems from the 20th century Chinese civil war, which has never technically ended.
Taiwan's independence, unfortunately, is mostly unacknowledged on the world stage — most countries have not established official diplomatic relations with Taiwan — and China aggressively polices speech regarding Taiwan. The communist government considers the recognition of Taiwan's sovereignty as crossing the proverbial "line in the sand."
What did Cena say?
Uploading a video to China's Twitter-like social media platform Sina Wiebo, Cena profusely apologized — although it was not good enough for many Chinese people.
"Hello, China. This is John Cena. I did many, many interviews for Fast & Furious 9. In one of the interviews I made a mistake," Cena said, according to Newsweek.
"I love and respect China and Chinese people. I'm very, very sorry for my mistake. Sorry, sorry. I'm very sorry," he added. "You must understand I love and respect China and Chinese people. Sorry. Goodbye."
The video was reportedly flooded with thousands of comments from Chinese users who thought Cena's apology was not sufficient.
"Please say in Chinese, 'Taiwan is part of China,' otherwise we won't accept [your apology]," the top comment on the video said, Newsweek reported.
"Then at least say Taiwan is China's. You're avoiding the issue and talking nonsense. You can't benefit from [the Chinese market] and trash it at the same time," another critic said.
The movie debuted in China last Friday, Newsweek reported.
What was the reaction?
Cena's capitulation to communist China's claim about Taiwan triggered an avalanche of backlash for the Hollywood star.
- "Pathetic," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) reacted.
- "Taiwan is a country. Hong Kong should be free. If you are unwilling to say these things because it might hurt your bottom line, you are a pathetic coward," Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro said, tagging Cena and NBA superstar LeBron James.
- "John Cena supports genocide," journalist Tim Pool said, referring to the ongoing genocide of Uyghur Muslims in China.
- "The willingness of American celebrities and large companies to bend the knee to modern day genocidal Nazis in China the year after China lied about covid and unleashed it on the world is truly being on the wrong side of history. It's pathetic," Clay Travis said.
- "[M]an, China really does have Hollywood by the balls. [I]t's at the point now where the [Chinese Communist Party] has U.S. actors issuing POW-style confessions," commentary writer Becket Adams said.
- "Bought and sold," another critic said.
- "At least now I know which part of my body is stronger than John Cena's — my spine," another person said.