China demands apology over Danish newspaper’s cartoon flag ‘insult’

China has objected to a satirical drawing of the Chinese flag published by a Danish newspaper on Monday.

China demands apology over Danish newspaper’s cartoon flag 'insult'
The cartoon as published in Jyllands-Posten. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

The Asian superpower has demanded a public apology over the publication of the satirical depiction of its flag by newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the country’s embassy to Denmark wrote in a press statement.

In the statement, the embassy writes that the drawing is “an insult to China” and that it “hurts the feelings of the Chinese people”.

“The current outbreak of a new coronavirus has cost 81 precious lives in China. At the same time as the Chinese government and the Chinese people are making every effort to combat this unusual and urgent health threat, Jyllands-Posten has published a ‘satirical drawing’ by Niels Bo Bojesen which is an insult to China and hurts the feelings of the Chinese people,” the embassy wrote according to a translation by Politiken.

“Lacking any form of sympathy or empathy, (the cartoon) has transcended the lower boundaries of civilized society and the ethical boundary of freedom of expression, and insults human conscience,” the statement continues.

“We express our strong indignation and demand that Jyllands-Posten and Niels Bo Bojesen repent their mistake and publicly apologize to the Chinese people,” it concludes.

Bojesen’s drawing depicts each of the five yellow stars of the Chinese flag as a coronavirus.

The newspaper’s managing editor said the cartoon was not intended as an insult.

“The drawing did not intend to mock or ridicule China,” Jyllands-Posten managing editor Jacob Nybroe told broadcaster TV2.

“Drawing a flag and illustrating the coronavirus very quickly illustrates that they [China, ed.] are battling a virus. That’s it,” he added.

Coronavirus has so far killed over 100 people in China, with the death toll now at 106, Chinese authorities said on Tuesday.

The total number of confirmed infections across China is over 4,000.

Cases of the virus have also been confirmed in other countries, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United States, France and Australia.

The first case of coronavirus has also been confirmed in Germany.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Denmark, CCCD, also expressed criticism of the cartoon.

“We respect the freedom of speech and, in particular, the personal freedom to express one's attitude, interpretation and attitude,” CCCD general secretary John Liu said in a press statement.

“However, we find that cartoonist Niels Bo Bojesen lacks manners and personal qualities such as compassion and sympathy. The drawing of the coronavirus on the Chinese flag expresses only mockery, ridicule and derision of the Chinese people who right now need the care and support of the outside world,” Liu said.

Jyllands-Posten, a centre-right daily, is the newspaper which published the infamous Muhammad cartoons in 2005, with broad-reaching consequences including a foiled terror plot against the publication, Danish flags being burned in a number of Muslim countries and an impact on the country’s exports.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Danish ministry advises caution over travel to China

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”