By Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
Actor John Cena has apologised to China for referring to Taiwan as a country.
The WWE star made the statement while promoting the latest Fast And Furious film.
Speaking in Mandarin, Cena reportedly said: “Taiwan is the first country that can watch.”
China considers the self-ruled Taiwan to be part of its territory.
Cena, who plays Jakob Toretto in F9, shared an apology video on Chinese social network website Weibo and said he made a “mistake”.
He said: “Now I have to say one thing which is very, very, very important: I love and respect China and Chinese people.”
Cena added: “I’m very sorry for my mistakes. Sorry. Sorry. I’m really sorry.”
Cena was criticised for the apology by major conservative figures in the US.
Yeah, John, you were correct. On your bowing to the Chinese Communist Party... I don’t see you!
We must stand with Taiwan and for freedom.https://t.co/e5mqrmz47p
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) May 25, 2021
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state under Donald Trump, tweeted: “Yeah, John, you were correct. On your bowing to the Chinese Communist Party… I don’t see you! We must stand with Taiwan and for freedom.”
Rick Scott, US senator from Florida, described Cena’s apology as “insane”.
He said: “Instead of kowtowing to the Communist Party of China – how about we stand up for our democratic ally Taiwan as they face increasing threats and aggression from General Secretary Xi?”
China is a massive market for Hollywood and the industry has been accused of censoring itself to placate the country’s rulers.
A report last year said filmmakers are increasingly making decisions about their movies, including the content, casting, plot and dialogue, to appease censors in Beijing.
The non-profit Pen America, which champions free speech, said Hollywood’s timid approach to China sets the standard for filmmakers around the world.
It is not only Hollywood which has found itself in trouble with Beijing.
The National Basketball Association (NBA), one of the biggest sports leagues in the US, came under pressure to sack Daryl Morey, then the general manager of the Houston Rockets, after he tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters in 2019.
LeBron James, basketball’s biggest star, was heavily criticised by some US politicians for a response to the controversy perceived to placate China.
Being discouraged by failure is normal, being detained by failure can be toxic. Learn, rise, grow. Never give up.
— John Cena (@JohnCena) May 25, 2021
Cena, who has studied Mandarin for years, has since posted an apparent reference to the Taiwan furore on Twitter.
The 44-year-old said: “Being discouraged by failure is normal, being detained by failure can be toxic.
“Learn, rise, grow. Never give up.”