“I’m really sorry. You have to understand that I love and respect China,” John Cena pleaded in a video posted to Weibo, a Chinese social network. The hulking wrestler made the mistake of referring to Taiwan as a country while giving a promotional interview—a mistake that reduced all six feet, two hundred and fifty pounds of him to an apologetic kitten.
Cena joined a long list of American hotshots who have run afoul of Chinese sensibilities. Recall when Daryl Morey, then the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protests in 2019.
Morey deleted the offending tweet while Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta distanced the team from the bomb that had been armed. The Chinese Basketball Association subsequently froze ties with the Houston Rockets over Morey’s “improper remarks” as the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank dropped support for the franchise. By October 2019, rumors swirled that Beijing had demanded his firing. China would flex its muscles to signal its displeasure with Morey for many months.
One year later, in October 2020, Morey announced his resignation. The news was well-received in China.