Why John Cena Issued An Apology To The Country Of China In Mandarin

Photo: Lev Radin/Shutterstock
John Cena in a suit

On Tuesday, actor and professional wrestler John Cena shared a video on Chinese social networking site Weibo, apologizing to China after giving a promotional interview for his upcoming movie, Fast & Furious 9, that landed him in hot water. 

Why did John Cena apologize to China? 

During the interview, Cena commented that Taiwan would be the first “country” that could watch the latest installment of the Fast and Furious series, Fast and Furious 9.

The statement, suggesting that Taiwan is a country, sparked outrage from Chinese Nationalists, leading Cena to post his minute long apology video, spoken in Mandarin. After the interview aired with Cena’s faux pas, the actor faced serious backlash from Chinese fans asking him to apologize in Mandarin for calling Taiwan a country.

Cena’s upcoming movie is set to release in the United States on June 25. The release date in China however, was set for May 21 after passing Chinese censorship approvals required for it to be released in theaters.

“I made a mistake,” Cena stated in the video. “I love and respect China and Chinese people.”

“I’m very sorry for my mistakes,” the actor continued. “You have to understand that I love and respect China and Chinese people. I’m sorry.”

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Why is Taiwan such a big deal to China?

China took control of Taiwan in 1945, and since then, it has been considered a breakaway province by Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China, and not a country. Currently, very few nations recognize Taiwan as a country.

According to The New York Times, Cena’s misstep was so offensive in China because “matters of sovereignty and territory are passionate issues driven by a strong sense of nationalism.”

With territory being a passionate issue in China, Cena’s insinuation of Taiwan not being a Chinese breakaway province was viewed as ignorant and insulting to the Chinese people.

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Hollywood and China

China is currently the second largest film market in the world, making up over 25% of the market share in the global box office. Because of this, Hollywood often uses this market as an opportunity to profit by exporting revenue-sharing movies to China.

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While exporting movies to China is beneficial to Hollywood, it means actors and production companies alike have to stay on their toes, in order to avoid losing the Chinese market. This has been especially important considering rising tensions between Hollywood and China during COVID-19. Like Cena, a long list of celebrities found themselves profusely apologizing to China after taking a misstep regarding the geopolitical landscape.

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Does John Cena speak Mandarin, or was it all for publicity?

Many of Cena’s fans requested that he give an apology in Mandarin in order to show respect to the offended viewers. Luckily for the pro-wrestler, in 2014, pro-wrestling company WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) taught some of its wrestlers a few Mandarin phrases in order for the company to gain traction in China. Cena got hooked and has been studying the language ever since. While some Weibo users were quick to forgive the actor, others were not, calling his video “insincere” and theorized he was just posting it for political correctness.

Livvie Brault is a writer who covers self-love, entertainment and news, and relationships.