American wrestling star and actor John Cena profusely apologized to Chinese fans on Tuesday (May 25) for calling Taiwan a country.

On May 8, Cena had appeared in a promotional video for the release on Taiwan of the film “Fast & Furious 9”. “Taiwan will be the first country to see ‘Fast & Furious 9,” he told his Taiwanese audience in Mandarin. “You are the first to see this movie.”

John Cena in 2016 (by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

But the reference to Taiwan as a country enraged Chinese netizens. A press conference prior to the premier scheduled for May 18 in Shanghai was canceled due to “threats”.

The government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) regards Taiwan as part of its territory, though Taiwan has never been ruled by the PRC. Beijing has vowed to take Taiwan by force, if the country does not voluntarily accept to be annexed.

Faced with the prospect of losing revenue on the lucrative Chinese market, John Cena released a video on Weibo, the PRC’s equivalent of Twitter, and profusely apologized for his “mistake”.

“I did many, many interviews for Fast & Furious 9, and I made a mistake during one interview,” Cena said in the video. “I must say, which is very very important, that I love and respect China and the Chinese people. I’m very, very sorry for my mistake. I apologize.”

John Cena thus apologized for telling the truth and for not endorsing PRC military expansionism.

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece Global Times triumphantly reported on Cena’s submission to its political agenda.

“John Cena on Tuesday apologized on Chinese social media after falsely indicating that the island of Taiwan is a country,” the paper wrote, adding that “Fast & Furious 9 earned $162 million during this weekend, of which a massive $135 million came from China.”

The CCP routinely uses a carrot and stick approach known as “united front” policy in order to win over groups and individuals and further its interests.

Read also: The Chinese Government’s “United Front” and the Threat to Liberal Democracies


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