World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star John Cena, who is famous for staring down his opponents, blinked when faced with an angry China and soon thereafter could be seen on video apologizing profusely for the “mistake” of describing Taiwan as a “country.”
Hollywood and big corporations often draw criticism for kowtowing to China, and Cena’s deferential apology is just one more example. In May, Cena appeared on a Taiwanese news network and referred to Taiwan as a “country,” a statement that apparently angered the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
If you are unfamiliar with the conflict between China and Taiwan, here’s the bottom line: the CCP sees Taiwan as part of China and insists that the island nation join with mainland China and its own ruling authority.
Cena, who has been studying Mandarin for several years, spoke in the Chinese language when he posted an apology to China and the Chinese people for his “mistake.” He explained, “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.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian recently chastised the U.S. for issuing a joint statement with South Korea on the “importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” Lijian threatened,
“The joint statement mentioned issues related to Taiwan and the South China Sea. The Taiwan question is China’s internal affair. It bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and allows no interference by external forces. We urge relevant countries to speak and act prudentially on the Taiwan question and refrain from playing with fire.”
Although official U.S. policy states that America views Taiwan as part of China, it also states that the U.S. will provide Taiwan with weapons and has done so for decades. The Trump administration increased the number of weapons shipped to Taiwan and strengthened relations between the Taiwan and the U.S.
Taiwan technically views itself as part of China, but the divide between the Taiwanese government and the CCP has grown. While Taiwan’s democracy is young, the Economist ranked it as the 11th most democratic nation in the world. For perspective, Japan was ranked 21st, South Korea was ranked 23rd, and the United States was ranked 25th.
China has floated the idea of a one country, two systems approach to reintegrating Taiwan, but Taiwan vehemently opposes such an approach, particularly in the wake of China’s trampling of Hong Kong. When Hong Kong was returned to China from the British, it was under the agreement that Hong Kong would continue to enjoy freedom in the same one country, two system approach. Over the last few years China has dispensed with any pretense of obeying that agreement and has turned Hong Kong into a police state.
Some fear that China will soon attack Taiwan to reintegrate it. China has frequently engaged in cyber attacks on Taiwan to interfere with public systems and interferes in Taiwanese elections. China also flies fighter jets close to Taiwan in an attempt to strong-arm the nation.
Currently, the Taiwanese people do not want to be completely independent of China but also do not want to be reintegrated into mainland China, nor do they support a one party, two systems approach. In fact the percentage of Taiwanese who view themselves exclusively as Taiwanese has increased to 64 percent, while 30 percent view themselves as both Taiwanese and Chinese, a decrease of 10 percent from a decade ago. The number of people who view themselves as only Chinese has dropped from 26 percent in 1994 to 3 percent in 2020.
While John Cena plays a tough guy on TV, he embarrassed himself with his apology to China. China is a human rights violator and a bully. Yet actors like Cena and the production and distribution companies he works with rely on China for an enormous portion of their profits.
He is hardly alone, nor is Hollywood the only industry that has sold out to the CCP. Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, was forced to apologize “to his friends in China” for his tweet supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, while the producers of “Top Gun 2” appear to have caved to Chinese censors by removing the flags of Taiwan and Japan from the flight jacket worn by lead actor Tom Cruise. Even mega-corporations like Apple are so beholden to cheap Chinese labor and the lucrative Chinese consumer markets that they too have groveled before their CCP overlords.
It is clear that the CCP will continue its push to absorb Taiwan by 2049. America needs to decide whether it will back down like Hollywood and other self-serving organizations or whether it will defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. Obviously, a war with China would not be advisable — as it is potentially unwinnable. Under Trump, the United States showed strength with China, and if the Biden administration is to avoid being rolled over, it must as well.
China’s comments show they do not fear President Biden or the United States. The question is: When China really stares, will the Biden administration hold its gaze — or blink?