Danish PM defends newspaper cartoon that angered Beijing

Chinese embassy in Denmark said illustration 'hurts the feelings of the Chinese people'

Caricature by Danish artist Niels Bo Bojesen. (Jyllands-Posten screengrab)

Caricature by Danish artist Niels Bo Bojesen. (Jyllands-Posten screengrab)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Tuesday (Jan. 28) defended a political cartoon, published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, that has drawn the ire of Beijing, saying, “We have freedom of speech.”

The Danish daily newspaper on Monday (Jan. 27) published a satirical Chinese national flag with its five yellow stars replaced by five viruses, a clear reference to the novel coronavirus that has swept almost every province and city in China.

The satirical illustration “is an insult to China and hurts the feelings of the Chinese people,” said China’s embassy in Denmark via a statement on Tuesday. “Without any sympathy and empathy, it has crossed the bottom line of civilized society and the ethical boundary of free speech and offends human conscience,” the embassy said, demanding an apology from the newspaper and the creator of the image, Niels Bo Bojesen.

However, to Beijing’s disappointment, the newspaper refused to apologize. “We cannot apologize for something that we don’t believe is wrong,” said Jacob Nybroe, editor-in-chief of Jyllands-Posten, reported Ritzau. “We have no intention of demeaning or mocking the situation in China and we don’t think the drawing does that.”

Prime minister Frederiksen, upon being asked to comment on the incident, referred to freedom of speech as “a tradition” of the country.

“I have nothing else to say about it other than that 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,” said Frederiksen. “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,” she added.

Updated : 2020-12-02 02:59 GMT+08:00