John Cena Apologizes In Mandarin To China For Calling Taiwan A Country

F9 opened at international theaters over the past weekend.

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Wrestler and movie star John Cena has issued a video apology in Mandarin to China via YouTube and Chinese social media platforms including Weibo after he recently referred to Taiwan as a country while giving a promotional interview for F9. For not identifying Taiwan as a part of China, Cena was met with immediate backlash on Chinese social media.

In the previous interview with Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS, according to The New York Times, Cena told a reporter that "Taiwan is the first country that can watch" F9. In his apology released Tuesday, Cena says he "made a mistake" and "I have to say one thing which is very, very important: I love and respect China and Chinese people."

The NYT is indicating that the controversy is not being forgiven so quickly on Weibo--and that Cena is the latest in a long line of companies (including Versace and Gap) and high-profile celebrities (including the NBA's Daryl Morey) who have unintentionally offended Chinese sensibilities. This incident also highlights the growing relationships and connections between American and Chinese entertainment industries and pop culture.

F9 opened at international theaters over the weekend, which so far has generated $162.4 million globally--a number that includes $135.6 million from China alone. Cena additionally has a Suicide Squad movie and HBO Max series spinoff in the works, and he will be producing and narrating Peacock's WWE Evil, "an entertaining psychological exposé into the minds of the most diabolical antagonists in WWE history, and their impact on mainstream culture."

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