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Craven: American Celebrity Grovels for Forgiveness from China After Calling Taiwan a Country

AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File

We were just discussing coerced videos and Hollywood's complicity in China's myriad human rights abuses, weren't we?  Days after unsurprising reports emerged that filmed messages from Uighurs denying persecution at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party were not offered voluntarily, an American celebrity has made a propaganda video of his own.  Former professional wrestling star and actor John Cena recorded a clip in Mandarin profusely apologizing for the grave error of referring to Taiwan as a country, a reality that Beijing refuses to accept.  Taiwan is a sovereign democracy.  Cena did so while promoting his new movie, which he clearly hopes will be a box office hit in China, so he prostrated himself before the regime's authoritarians and a nationalistic audience in order to salvage his reputation as a bankable star.  Here's the financially-motivated hostage video:


U.S. actor and former World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. champion John Cena apologized for describing Taiwan as a country in a promotional video for his latest movie, saying sorry in Mandarin after the comments triggered a backlash in China. Cena made the apology in a clip posted Tuesday on his official Weibo account, a Chinese social media platform like Twitter. He had earlier this month indicated that Taiwan was a country in a video promoting his film “Fast & Furious 9,” according to China’s state-run Global Times newspaper. “I made a mistake. I must say now that, very very very importantly, I love and respect China and Chinese people,” Cena said in Chinese in the video, without elaborating further. The apology video triggered further anger on Chinese social media, where users denounced Cena for not stating that Taiwan was part of China. Beijing argues that democratically-run Taiwan is part of its territory, and has in recent years increased diplomatic pressure on the Taipei government and other nations that recognize its legitimacy. Cena is the latest high-profile westerner to come under fire for publicly crossing China’s political lines, amid a boycott of some U.S. and Europe-based brands that had taken a stand against the treatment of Muslim Uyghurs in China’s far west Xinjiang region.


Cena's pathetic performance wasn't sufficient for hordes of Chinese nationalists and trolls, who wanted him to go the distance and explicitly embrace the regime's view that Taiwan belongs to mainland China.  This is reminiscent of the boycott against the woke frauds at Nike, who pandered aggressively to the CCP by standing in solidarity against Western values, and even lobbied against a bill in Congress that was opposed by Beijing -- but because they wouldn't agree to celebrate slave labor, they were targeted anyway, in favor of enthusiastically pro-slave labor Chinese competitors.  Cena is not alone in selling out in pursuit of profits.  A growing list of American companies, including major airlines and hotel chains, have caved to Chinese demands regarding Taiwan.  We've also seen stars in the National Basketball Association carry Beijing's water by demanding silence on China's anti-democracy violations of international law and civil rights abuses in Hong Kong.  And precious few high profile entertainers or prominent brands -- who trip over each other to publicly preen about "social justice" issues in the United States -- seem to have anything to say about the active genocide being perpetrated by the CCP against Muslim minorities in Western China.  They should be made to squirm over this craven, self-serving hypcrisy:


Do these people of color (it's unclear if the term "Black and Brown bodies" can be deployed here) not quite count?  Does 'Never Again' come with a China-sized asterisk?  Or, perhaps more aptly, a dollar-shaped asterisk?  These rich, famous people should be asked about it.  They give interviews all the time to promote their personal brands and expand their fame and wealth.  Who will have the stones to ask them?  It's one thing for Uighurs to mouth lies to the camera while under virtual or literal threat from thugs with guns who run concentration camps. It's another thing entirely for a multimillionaire celeb to beg for forgiveness for rankling Beijing's profoundly illiberal sensibilities as a form of profit-maximizing damage control, on behalf of the ninth installment of a movie franchise about car racing (and, of course, protecting his viability within China-addicted and -beholden Hollywood.  One is defensible.  The other is not.  I'll leave you with another fair question for John Cena: If you pulled out of an event in Saudi Arabia in protest of a grotesque human rights abuse against a journalist (fair enough!), what's the justification for this posture on China, which is currently running mass-scale concentration camps, enforcing draconian forced labor practices, and carrying out full-blown ethnic cleansing?


I suspect the answer ultimately has something to do with the shape of the asterisks mentioned above.

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