China Demands Apology From Danish Newspaper Over Virus Cartoon

Morten Buttler
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China Demands Apology From Danish Newspaper Over Virus Cartoon

(Bloomberg) -- The Chinese Embassy to Denmark wants the newspaper Jyllands-Posten to apologize for publishing a drawing that depicts China’s flag with virus symbols instead of five stars.

“We express our strong indignation and demand that Jyllands-Posten and [cartoonist] Niels Bo Bojesen reproach themselves for their mistake and publicly apologize to the Chinese people,” the embassy said in a statement posted on its website.

When asked to comment, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen avoided any direct reference to Jyllands-Posten’s cartoon.

“I have nothing to say on the matter other than [to note that] we have a very strong tradition in Denmark not just for freedom of speech but also for freedom of satire, and we’ll continue to have that in the future,” she said, according to multiple news media including Politiken. “This is a well known Danish position and we’re not going to change it.”

Denmark’s largest newspaper has faced international backlash over its cartoons in the past. In 2005, the paper printed 12 drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, which angered many nations in which Islam is the main religion and sparked a diplomatic crisis. Back then, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen also defended freedom of speech and said governments had no place telling newspapers what to write.

The Chinese flag was printed in the opinion section of the newspaper’s Monday edition with a caption titled “Corona virus”.

Editor-in-Chief Jacob Nybroe said the paper won’t apologize.

“We can’t apologize for something we don’t think is wrong,” Nybroe told news agency Ritzau. “We have no intention to demean or mock but we don’t think this drawing is doing that.”

(Updates with comment from Denmark’s prime minister)

To contact the reporter on this story: Morten Buttler in Copenhagen at mbuttler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christian Wienberg at cwienberg@bloomberg.net, Tasneem Hanfi Brögger

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