John Cena apologised to fans in China after referring to Taiwan as a "country" while promoting the latest Fast and Furious movie, F9.
The wrestler-turned-actor uttered the political faux pas during a recent interview with a broadcaster in Taiwan, which Chinese authorities claim is its sovereign territory, despite it being de facto independent since 1949.
"Taiwan is the first country that can watch F9," he said at the time, in Mandarin, causing an uproar in China.
However, Cena is now walking back his terminology and has expressed his sorrow to Chinese fans by issuing a video apology - also in Mandarin - on China's social media network Weibo.
The star, who has been learning the language for years, doesn't make direct reference to his original comments, but explained he had done "a lot of interviews" and "made a mistake".
He simply stated: "I'm sorry for my mistake. I must say now, (it's) very, very, very, very important (that) I love, and respect even more, China and the Chinese people."
However, Cena came under fire from a number of U.S. media and political figures including Megyn Kelly, who branded his apology "stomach turning", and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Taiwan's status has long been a point of contention between China's ruling Communist Party government and Western leaders.
The Chinese box office has been monumental in the early success of F9, which raced to a $136 million (£96 million) opening over the weekend, making it the first big Hollywood release to debut with over $100 million (£70.6 million) there since 2019's Avengers: Endgame.
Cena, who boasts over 600,000 followers on Weibo, joined the cast of F9 as Vin Diesel's onscreen brother.