China Demands Apology After Newspaper Publishes Coronavirus Cartoon


China demanded Monday that a major Danish newspaper apologize for an editorial cartoon on the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The cartoon shows the Chinese flag with virus spores replacing the normal stars.

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the virus, with more than 100 deaths. Most have been in the central city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began in December.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the virus had spread to 15 other countries.

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in Copenhagen expressed its “strong indignation” over the Jyllands-Posten cartoon printed Monday, calling it “an insult to China.”

It added that the drawing “crossed the bottom line of civilized society and the ethical boundary of free speech, and offends human conscience.”

Jyllands-Posten’s chief editor, Jacob Nybroe, said the cartoon was not intended “to mock or ridicule China.”

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He said his newspaper “can’t apologize for something we don’t think is wrong. … As far as I can see, there are two different types of cultural understanding here.”

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said freedom of expression in Denmark includes cartoons.

“We have a very, very strong tradition in Denmark not only for freedom of expression, but also for satirical drawings, and we will have that in the future as well,” Frederiksen said.

“It is a well-known Danish position, and we will not change that,” she said.

In September 2005, Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons showing the Prophet Muhammad. This caused wide outrage among Muslims, who generally hold that any depiction of Muhammad is blasphemous, and prompted often violent protests.

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Four months later, anti-Danish demonstrations were held in predominantly Muslim countries, some of which led to attacks on Danish and other Western embassies, while boycotts of Danish products were staged in the Middle East.

One of the cartoonists was assaulted in his home, and a terror attack against the newspaper’s Copenhagen office was foiled by the intelligence service.

The newspaper said it had wanted to test whether cartoonists would apply self-censorship when asked to portray Muhammad.

No Danish laws were violated with the cartoons’ publication.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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