Wrestling superstar turned actor John Cena’s apology to China continues to receive intense backlash. While he is no stranger to the boos and hisses of fervent wrestling fans, he has never been on the receiving end of negativity of this scale.

Earlier this month, Cena referred to Taiwan as being the first country to watch Fast and Furious 9 during an interview with TVBS, a Taiwanese broadcaster. The remark wasn’t well received by Chinese fans and the interview made headlines all over the country.

Cena lost favor amongst Chinese fans for calling Taiwan a country as Beijing insists that the self-ruled island is an indispensable part of China. He later uploaded an apology video in fluent Mandarin to China and Chinese people on his Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. 

Hi China, I’m John Cena. I’m in the middle of Fast and Furious 9 promotions. I’m doing a lot of interviews. Everyone was asking me if I could use Chinese... 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.

The Fast and Furious star didn’t state explicitly what his mistake was, but he repeatedly apologized while stating that he loved and respected China and Chinese fans. The post has garnered thousands of comments, with many Chinese fans expressing that the apology wasn’t sincere enough.

While some portion of Chinese fans have settled down because of the apology, the post only aggravated the situation everywhere else. His apology sparked an outrage with several WWE talents and people calling him out for refusing to say that Taiwan was an independent country.

American politician and diplomat Mike Pompeo addressed the controversy, calling for people to stand with Taiwan for freedom while berating the wrestling superstar. Thousands of other people have expressed a similar sentiment with a few even bringing up LeBron James Hong Kong controversy.

Fast And Furious 9

The movie Cena was promoting that led to the current outrage, F9, made its global premiere on May 19 in South Korea and Hongkong. Universal Pictures, the film’s distributor, had previously chosen Taiwan for its global premiere, an entire month before its release in North America.

The movie is directed by Taiwanese-American Justin Lin and reportedly broke Covid-19 pandemic box-office record despite its limited release. The Guardian reported F9 made at least $135.6 million in China alone.

In a previous interview with Xinhua News Agency, Vin Diesel shared the movie was premiering in China at the earliest because those behind the movie saw the country as family.

It is a kind of show of gratitude to the family.

In the same interview, Cena had also revealed that the next installment of the Fast & Furious franchise would be filmed in China.