John Cena was on the receiving end of a piledriver Tuesday from American Twitter users after his “pathetic” apology to China for referring to Taiwan as a country during a promotional spot for his new movie “F9.”
“Taiwan is a country. Hong Kong should be free. If you are unwilling to say these things because it might hurt your bottom line, you are a pathetic coward,” conservative pundit Ben Shapiro posted on his Twitter account.
“Pathetic,” was Republican Sen. Tom Cotton’s reaction to Cena’s mea culpa.
Cena, speaking Mandarin, went on Chinese social media site Weibo Tuesday to apologize for calling Taiwan a country during a promotional interview for “F9,” the latest installment for the “Fast and Furious” franchise, earlier this month.
The Chinese, who consider Taiwan a rogue province that is part of its territory, erupted in outrage at his blunder.
“I made one mistake. I have to say something very, very, very important now. I love and respect China and Chinese people. I’m very, very sorry about my mistake. I apologize, I apologize, I’m very sorry. You must understand that I really love, really respect China and the Chinese people. My apologies. See you,” Cena said.
But many Chinese netizens were unsatisfied with the gesture because Cena stopped short of saying that Taiwan is part of China in his statement.
“[S]till didn’t say that Taiwan is China. Is it so difficult?,” one user wrote under his post.
“Actually, it’s better to post a video and directly say that Taiwan is a part of China. What’s the point of apologizing?,” posted another user.
“Please say ‘Taiwan is part of China’ in Chinese, otherwise we will not accept,” demanded another commenter.
The apology set off its own firestorm in the US that hit Cena like a flying suplex.
Keith Olbermann, the former ESPN and MSNBC commentator who knows his way around controversy, called Cena’s remarks “shameful.”
“Taiwan is a country – and a democracy. You just apologized to a dictatorship,” he said in a Twitter post.
“Cena should be asked on his little movie promotion junket if he accepts or rejects the US State Department’s conclusion that China is engaged in genocide against ethnic and religious minorities of color in Xinjiang,” said conservative commentator Guy Benson.
CNN anchor Jim Sciutto was also part of the Twitter tag-team that piled on Cena.
“Why not call a decades-long healthy and functioning democracy a country? Because much of Hollywood operates in fear of Beijing, many of its blockbuster movies dependent on the mainland Chinese market,” Sciutto said on the social media platform.
Others recalled Cena’s career as a champion professional wrestler and expressed their disappointment in his kowtowing to a rival of the US.
”I grew up watching this man never lose and always come through to save the day for me, tonight I see a coward who just lost to China,” user @ItBegins2012 tweeted.
“What a sad day for all John Cena fans. The WWE’s John cena would have done the exact opposite in this situation. I guess this is his true side and he was just playing a role all these years,” wrote @matta43739481.