China demands apology over Danish newspaper’s cartoon
OUTRAGE Chinese people have put swastikas on the Danish flag in revenge for a newspaper cartoon on the coronavirus.
The satirical carton – replacing stars on the Chinese flag with viruses – provoked fury in Beijing and its embassy in Denmark demanded an apology.
But daily broadsheet Jyllands-Posten refused to apologise and Denmark’s PM Mette Frederiksen defended its right to “free expression”
Furious social media users responded by altering the Danish flag with Nazi symbols, skulls and sanitary pads.
Dozens of mocked up flags were shared on the Weibo app as anger grew in the Communist state.
Some also included white flags and the phrase “four hours”, a reference to Denmark’s rapid surrender to the German invasion in 1940.
The coronavirus outbreak, which began in Wuhan earlier this month, has now spread to every region of China and 22 other countries including the UK.
The death toll has reached 213, with almost 10,000 people infected in what the WHO has called a global health emergency.
Jyllands-Posten published the cartoon on Monday.
Beijing’s embassy in Copenhagen called it “an insult to China” and demanded an apology from the newspaper and cartoonist Niels Bo Bojesen.
The embassy said: “Lacking any form of sympathy or empathy, it has transcended the lower boundaries of civilised society and the ethical boundary of freedom of expression, and insults human conscience.
“We express our strong indignation and demand that Jyllands-Posten and Niels Bo Bojesen repent their mistake and publicly apologise to the Chinese people.”
The paper’s managing editor Jacob Nybroe said it was not meant as an insult, but refused to apologise.
The drawing did not intend to mock or ridicule China
He said: “The drawing did not intend to mock or ridicule China.
“Drawing a flag and illustrating the coronavirus very quickly illustrates that they are battling a virus. That’s it.”
Ms Frederiksen said: “I just want to say from Denmark and the Danish government’s side, all we have to say is that we have freedom of expression in Denmark – also to draw.
“We have a very, very strong tradition in Denmark, not only for free speech, but also for satirical drawings, and that will continue in the future as well.
“It is a well-known Danish position, and we won’t change that.”
Jyllands-Posten claimed other newspapers in Belgium, Holland and Mexico had published similar cartoons with viruses on the Chinese flag, but they had not had the same angry reaction.
The paper has a history of controversy.
In 2005 it published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban, sparking riots across the world that killed at least 250 people.
Terror plots targeted the newspaper and Danish embassies, cartoonists were put in police safe houses, and a boycott in the Middle East hit Danish exports.