John Cena Apologizes to China for Calling Taiwan a Country

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John Cena landed in hot water with Chinese fans this week after referring to Taiwan as a country. Now he’s opened up about his mistake – but some fans aren’t accepting his apology.

For many Western companies and celebrities trying to operate in China, there’s a political tightrope to be walked.

Because of its complex and controversial political climate, the safest route for those trying to break into the market is staying firmly out of any political debates.

And one area that’s particularly contentious?

The status of Taiwan.

This week, John Cena fell afoul of China’s political powers.

When he referred to the disputed terrain of Taiwan as an independent country.

In the past, other companies have fallen foul to the same problem.

Clothing store Gap found themselves in big trouble back in 2019, when they produced t-shirts omitting the island of Taiwan from a map of China.

China has also ordered thirty-six airlines to remove references to Taiwan as a separate country from their materials.

At the time, the Trump administration called this “Orwellian nonsense.”

Although Wikipedia refers to Taiwan as a “country in East Asia” …

​The People’s Republic of China claim that the Republic of China government is illegitimate. 

In other words, China considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province of the country.

Disagreement with the party line is taken very seriously by the Chinese government, as a strong sense of nationalism is key to their policies.

So how exactly does John Cena come into all of this?

You likely know him as a terrifying wrestler turned actor, rather than a political pot-stirrer.

But it seems he’s accidentally stumbled into thorny territory.

And it’s not yet known whether his apologies will be enough.

One of Cena’s most iconic roles is in the Fast and Furious franchise.

But the ninth installment of the Fast and Furious movies has been plagued by issues.

It’s been delayed for more than a year thanks to the COVID pandemic.

And now, approaching its release, Cena has caused the movie more grief.

Over the weekend, it’s drawn more than $162 million in tickets in eight international markets, including China.

So it’s clear that these movies depend on China for their financial success.

John Cena is known to be a popular celebrity in China.

He’s a regular on Chinese social media platform Weibo, allowing him direct contact with these fans. He even speaks some Mandarin after studying it for years.

However, over the weekend during a promotional interview, Cena slipped up massively.

Speaking to Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS he told the reporter in Mandarin, “Taiwan is the first country that can watch” the latest Fast and Furious.

Although this seems like an honest statement, China takes any assertion of an independent Taiwan very seriously.

And immediately saw Cena’s answer as a statement against China overall.

So much so, that Cena made a statement of apology.

“I made a mistake. Now I have to say one thing which is very, very, very important: I love and respect China and Chinese people,” Cena shared on Weibo.

“I’m very sorry for my mistakes.”

“Sorry. Sorry. I’m really sorry. You have to understand that I love and respect China and Chinese people.”

However, it seems as though Chinese nationals aren’t ready to accept his apology.

“Please say ‘Taiwan is part of China’ in Chinese,” one fan replied to the video.

“Otherwise, we will not accept your apology.”

​It remains to be seen whether Cena’s statement will have an adverse effect on the success of the new movie, ​F9.

​It seems when it comes to promoting products and media in China, it’s impossible to be ​too ​careful.

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