Actor and WWE star John Cena is facing flak on Twitter after posting a video apology on Chinese social media for referring to Taiwan as a country during promotions for his latest film, Fast and Furious 9.
Earlier this month, while virtually promoting the film to audiences in Taiwan, Cena emphasized that "Taiwan will be the first country to see 'Fast and Furious 9" and told fans that they would be the first to see the movie.
The film, which is directed by the Taiwan-born Justin Lin, was initially slated to hit Taiwanese theaters on May 19th but its release was postponed owing to the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Cena's video went viral and sparked controversy in China with Chinese netizens expressing their anger over Cena's remarks, as Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory while self-ruled Taiwan considers itself an independent island. NASA also drew a similar response in China back in March after referring to Taiwan as a separate country, as previously reported.
Cena Apologizes on China's Sina Weibo for 'Making a Mistake'
On Tuesday, speaking in Mandarin, Cena apologized to Chinese viewers in the clip posted on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like microblogging platform. In the video, Cena says he made a mistake and apologized for it
"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 apologise, I apologise, I'm very sorry. You must understand that I really love, really respect China and the Chinese people. My apologies. See you," Cena said in the video , without elaborating on what mistake he had made. Watch the video below:
"Fast & Furious 9" is currently running in theaters in the Chinese mainland and premiered on May 21st. The ninth instalment in the action-packed franchise made a whopping $135 million at the China box office over the weekend.
Cena has now drawn criticism on social media with many calling out the actor a "coward" and "spineless" for cowering down to China, fearing an impact at the box office revenues in the lucrative Chinese market.
"Cowardly. Denying Taiwan as a country just to appease Chinese fans in the hopes of making more money, " wrote one user, while another commented, "Disgraceful and pathetic. Taiwan is a country. John Cena deserves to be cancelled."
Here are some of the other reactions: