“In one interview, I made a mistake,” he said. “I am really sorry. I really respect China and the Chinese people. Sorry.”
Cena reiterated his apology in the video’s caption, writing “I love and respect China and Chinese people.”
According to the New York Post, Cena’s comment about Taiwan came during an interview with a Taiwanese broadcaster, where he said in Mandarin that “Taiwan is the first country that can watch ‘F9.’ “
Not everyone on Weibo approved of Cena’s apology. One of the top comments, with over 7,000 likes, reads in Mandarin: “Please say ‘Taiwan is a part of China’ in Chinese. Otherwise, we don’t accept.”
Taiwan has been self-ruled since 1949 when Mao Zedong led Communist forces to victory and the Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taipei, where they set up a rival government which claimed to be the legitimate government of the island and the mainland.
Over the decades Taiwan has developed into a vibrant democracy, but it has never declared full independence. That’s partly because some Taiwanese politicians have adhered to the so-called One China policy and partly because China has threatened violence to regain the “rebel” island if it ever tries to formally split with the mainland.
China continues to claim sovereignty over Taiwan, despite its self-ruled status, and has blocked Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization’s 194-member assembly, because of Taipei’s dispute with Beijing over its political status.
“F9,” the ninth installment of the mega-action “Fast and Furious” franchise that stars Vin Diesel and has a massive international following, sees Cena play a new villain named Jakob. Universal has already released the film in multiple international markets, including China, before its June 25 premiere in the United States.
Contributing: Dian Zhang, Elizabeth Weise, Ralph Jennings, Kim Hjelmgaard, Hannah Gardner, Brian Truitt