This week, actor John Cena issued a statement apologizing for calling Taiwan a country during an interview about his upcoming film “Fast and Furious 9.” After receiving backlash from fans on Chinese social media websites, Cena kowtowed to the pressure, saying, “I made a mistake.”
The only mistake Cena made in this situation was issuing an apology to an authoritarian government that intimidates and undermines Taiwan, a trusted American ally, and blatantly pushes lies to the rest of the world. Taiwan, a democratic light surrounded by authoritarianism, remains under constant military threat from mainland China, and the CCP has intimidated countries across the world into not recognizing Taiwan for what it is: a sovereign nation.
The Trump administration upset decades of policy by regularly recognizing Taiwan as its own nation, leaving behind an opportunity for President Joe Biden to do the same in a stand against China. While the Biden administration, through Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, has begun to stand up to China on environmental issues, there is more work to do.
To hold the CCP accountable is not only important diplomatically, but economically and even environmentally. Celebrities, like Cena, weighing in on complex geopolitical matters like Taiwan’s sovereignty allows China to continue its abuses without consequence in the court of public opinion. We cannot normalize the CCP bullying Americans into issuing apologies for standing up for our allies.
Forcing an apology out of an American actor is yet another example of the CCP deceiving the rest of the world. The CCP is committing human rights atrocities right in front of our eyes, yet touts itself as a moral and economic powerhouse. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the CCP is committing genocide against the Uighurs, yet American influencers continue to kneel to the communist regime. Birth rates continue to plummet in the mostly Muslim regions of China where the CCP is committing this cultural genocide. Uighur women are being sterilized against their will while celebrities like Cena apologize to the regime for something as simple as recognizing a sovereign nation. We have an obligation to cut through the noise and show the horrors the CCP commits against its own people.
China has also lied its way to a reputation as a climate change champion on the world stage by touting its accomplishments in the production of solar panels and wind turbines. In the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, China was shockingly labeled a developing country when it, at the time, had the second largest economy in the world. Three years later in 2018, a representative of the CCP had the nerve to call on “rich nations” to pay their climate debts when China’s GDP is higher than every nation except for the United States. That’s not leadership. It’s deception.
There are countless examples of how the CCP lies to the rest of the world, from hiding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to financing dirty coal-fire plants worldwide. Medical experts across the United States acknowledge that COVID-19 may not have occurred naturally, and a recent report demonstrated that Chinese CO2 emissions are more than every developed country combined. Even on American college campuses, Confucius Institutes, disguised as cultural and language centers, attempt to whitewash the CCP’s actions. Confucius Institutes are a classic example of CCP funding being used as influence as professors censor themselves due to worry that the funding could be pulled or they could be fired. Often, Confucius Institute professors are required to follow Chinese law which dictates classifying Taiwan and Tibet as both entities of China. The CCP’s only true priority is to eclipse the United States on the world stage, with no concern for people or our planet.
As the leader of the free world, the United States has a duty to advocate for democratic values internationally. Ignoring the CCP’s authoritarianism on human rights and blatant disregard for our natural environment behind closed doors is unAmerican. Whether it be the treatment of Uighurs in reeducation camps across China or misleading, unmet environmental goals, the CCP must be held accountable by the United States for its actions. If any apology is warranted, it should be from China.
Danielle Butcher is the executive vice president at the American Conservation Coalition (ACC) and visiting fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF). Clint Reid is the chairman of the Alabama College Republicans and also serves as ACC’s southern regional coordinator.