F9 star John Cena apologises in Mandarin, after referring to Taiwan as a 'country'

Early this month, John Cena said while promoting F9 in Taiwan that it will be the "first country" to watch the movie. PHOTO: JOHN CENA/WEIBO

American actor and World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler John Cena, star of the movie Fast And Furious 9 (F9), has apologised to Chinese fans for a "mistake", likely over a comment linked to Taiwan.

In a video posted on Chinese social media platform Weibo on Tuesday (May 25), he said in Mandarin that he had made a mistake during one of the many interviews he did to promote the movie but did not give details.

"I have to say something very important, that is I love and even respect China and the Chinese people," said the 44-year-old, repeating "very" five times.

"I am very sorry and I apologise for my mistake."

Early this month, Cena, who is known as Zhao Xina in Chinese, said while promoting F9 in Taiwan that it will be the "first country" to watch the movie.

While self-governing Taiwan enjoys de facto independence from China, the latter considers it a part of its territory, one to be reunified by force if necessary.

Cena's apology was welcomed by some Chinese netizens, who said they accepted his explanation that he had been misled by wrong information.

Other netizens were not so forgiving and wanted him to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of China.

F9, which is directed by Justin Lin and also stars Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, was scheduled to open in Taiwan on May 19, but its release has been postponed indefinitely due to a surge in Covid-19 cases on the island.

The movie opened in China on May 21 and earned more than 940 million yuan (S$195 million) after four days of release.

China is an important market for many international firms, and they do not want to risk a boycott by offending the country over sensitive issues such as those related to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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