Chinese netizens react to Fast and Furious actor John Cena’s “insincere” apology

The American professional wrestler and actor John Cena has apologised to Chinese audiences on Weibo following remarks he made about Taiwan. In an interview promoting the latest Fast and Furious movie, he referred to Taiwan as a country. Cena, who has been learning Mandarin for nearly a decade, said in the apology video:

“I must say that I’ve made a mistake. This is so important: I love and respect China and the Chinese people.”

The Fast and Furious franchise is very popular in China, and, according to film data platform Dengta, the latest instalment of Fast and Furious 9 had brought in 1 billion RMB ($156 million) in ticket sales as of 26 May. It has become the 87th movie to surpass the 1 billion RMB milestone in China’s box office history.

The popularity of the well-known series resulted in the ‘slip-up’ gaining lots of attention on social media in China. The hashtag ‘#John Cena apologised’ (#约翰塞纳道歉) has over 7.43 million views on Weibo.

“As for Taiwan, many westerners don’t know about our history. It’s similar to the issue of Kosovo – we don’t know whether it belongs to Serbia or if it is independent. If he acknowledged that he made a mistake, it’s okay.”

“A foreign celebrity has been self-learning Mandarin for 10 years. Although few people engage with him on Weibo, he still keeps posting content on the platform. I don’t believe he wants to separate China from Taiwan. He uses Chinese for his interviews and Chinese is not his mother language. It’s okay to make a mistake.” 

Comments from netizens

While some netizens supported him, the majority criticised his apology for being insincere as he didn’t allude to what his ‘mistake’ was in the Weibo video. This latest scandal highlights the sensitivity of Taiwan and geographical sovereignty concerns among Chinese consumers.

“He said Taiwan is a country in Taiwan and said he respects Chinese people in China mainland. He is a two-faced person. I don’t know why Chinese people should accept his apology because if he wants to make money in China then he needs to know his political stance. “

Comments from a Weibo user

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