By: NOLAN PAGE
On Tuesday May 25, WWE wrestler and actor John Cena released an apology to the Chinese people in Mandarin. This apology came after Cena did an interview with a broadcaster in Taiwan as a part of promotions for Cena’s new movie, ‘Fast and Furious 9’ or ‘F9’.
During the interview, conducted in Mandarin, he mentioned that, “Taiwan is the first country that can watch ‘F9.” This statement brought backlash to the star’s comments from many in China. Taiwan has been self governing for over 70 years and declares itself an independent country, but China still considers Taiwan a part of its own territory and does not take kindly to those who oppose this view.
This is an especially important factor for Cena who originally learned Mandarin in order to appeal his wrestling career to Chinese audiences. The Fast and Furious series also relies heavily on Chinese viewership for the success with ‘F9’ being released in China before the United States. According to Variety, the movie grossed $137 million in China in its first weekend.
Shortly after the interview, Cena uploaded his apology in Mandarin to the Chinese social media app, Weibo. According to a translation from the New York Post, Cena said this: “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. I made one mistake. I have to say something very, very, very important now. I love and respect China and Chinese people. 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.”
This sort of apology is fairly commonplace and is not limited to the world of entertainment either. According to the New York Times, in recent years, companies like Gap, Versace, and Marriott have also issued apologies to China after accidentally implying that Taiwan was a country.
The responses to Cena’s apologies were very mixed across the world. Some in China are still upset with Cena, saying that his vague apology is not enough. One commenter on Cena’s Weibo post wrote, “Please say ‘Taiwan is part of China’ in Chinese, otherwise we will not accept.” Another left a comment saying, “Actually, it’s better to post a video and directly say that Taiwan is a part of China. What’s the point of apologizing?” The apology was met with controversy outside of China as well, though for entirely different reasons. Many support Taiwan’s independent democracy and feel that Cena is taking the wrong side in order to keep himself marketable to Chinese audiences. Jim Sciutto, a news anchor for CNN, tweeted “Why not call a decades-long healthy and functioning democracy a country? Because much of Hollywood operates in fear of Beijing, many of its blockbuster movies depend on the mainland Chinese market.” A twitter user from Hong Kong wrote, “I really want John Cena to understand by denying Taiwan is a country he is also denying the cultural identity and experience of Taiwanese. Taiwan is their home, not to mention what China is doing is colonization. He should apologize to Taiwan. Truly.”