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John Cena apologizes for calling Taiwan a country during interview

John Cena is apologizing after calling Taiwan a country while promoting the latest "Fast and the Furious'' film, "F9." The actor and professional wrestler posted the apology Tuesday in Mandarin on the popular Chinese social media site Weibo. 

"I made one mistake, I must say right now, very important, I love and respect Chinese people," Cena said, according to BBC News. "I am very sorry for my mistake. I am so sorry, I apologize."

Cena's initial comment came during an interview with TVBS, a Taiwanese broadcast company. The 44-year-old said Taiwan would be the first "country" to see the ninth installment of the "Fast and the Furious" franchise. 

His comment sparked outrage on Chinese social media sites as Taiwan's status remains a heated topic. Beijing considers the self-governed Taiwan to be part of its territory and opposes the idea that its an independent state, BBC News reported.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since 1949 but Beijing has tried to limit Taiwan's international influence and has not ruled out using force to reclaim the island, according to BBC News.

John Cena
John Cena in 2020. Dia Dipasupil / Getty

Cena, who has over 600,000 followers on Weibo, has studied Mandarin for several years. In 2017, he admitted that despite his best efforts, he still spoke the language like a "third grader."

Some Weibo users said Cena's apology wasn't enough, while others were more sympathetic, BBC News reported. Meanwhile, some American lawmakers slammed Cena's apology. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas called it "pathetic."

After being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, "F9" premiered this weekend in international theaters, making over $162 million at the box office, according to Variety. The film is on track to be one of the year's biggest blockbusters.

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