Chinese social media users target Denmark after Danish newspaper’s coronavirus cartoon | Society News | SupChina
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Chinese social media users target Denmark after Danish newspaper’s coronavirus cartoon

A wave of anti-Denmark sentiment has flared up on the Chinese internet after Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a cartoon about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak and refused to apologize for what many Chinese people saw as an example of racism and tone-deaf reporting.

The cartoon appeared in the newspaper on January 27. It depicted a Chinese national flag with the five yellow stars normally found in the top left hand corner replaced with drawings of five coronaviruses. The image was shared on Chinese social media, where it provoked an instant backlash. Critics said the cartoon was a blatant insult to China.

On January 28, China’s embassy in Denmark also condemned the newspaper, saying that the satirical drawing by the Danish artist Niels Bo Bojesen was devoid of “any form of sympathy or empathy,” and that it has “transcended the lower boundaries of civilized society and the ethical boundary of freedom of expression, and insults human conscience.” In the statement (in Chinese) published on its website, the Chinese embassy also asked the publication and the artist to “repent for their mistake” and “publicly apologize to the Chinese people.”

In response, Jyllands-Posten managing editor Jacob Nybroe said the newspaper stood by its decision to publish the cartoon, arguing that there was no intention of ridiculing or mocking the situation in China behind the image. “We couldn’t apologize for something that we don’t believe is wrong,” she told Danish newswire Ritzau, adding that the main cause of the debate was “two different types of cultural understanding.”

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen also stressed the importance of freedom of expression in Denmark. “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.”

It should be no surprise that the “it’s just satire” argument didn’t fly with angry netizens on the Chinese internet. Worse, the unapologetic attitude on the Danish side only further infuriated critics, who have been posting anti-Denmark remarks and illustrations on social media. Below is a collection of the most aggressive attacks:

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“I hope the virus defeats you in no time. You racist trash.”

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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.

10 Comments

  1. Mr. Uaedurt Reply

    Oh when the Danish does it, it’s all for fun and Chinese people should chill out.
    When Chinese people returns the favor, it’s an “aggressive attack.”

    Thanks for showing how woke and liberal you are Jiayun Feng! lol

    It’s rather ironic because Danish people are one of the most left wing woke liberals in the world and they would bend over backwards defending let’s say…Muslims if they get mocked. They also wouldn’t pull the freedom of speech card in defense of that either. But then Chinese people are easy targets I guess. Those Chinese people better not attack them back! If they do, that means these Chinese people are mean. If they don’t attack them back, i’ll say they are weak and don’t embrace freedom of speech.

  2. Regulidanus Reply

    The cartoon is in poor taste, but ultimately innocent. The last reply is someone quite sincerely and directly wishing death upon all Danes. Go be a brainwashed angry little chink somewhere else.

    1. Fragile Dane Reply

      Calm down, Reggie. There’s no need for racism. Your white fragility is showing. There are triggered Danes like you all over the Internet speaking ill of the Chinese people, yet you think one bad comment from a random Chinese is the end of the world? You should take a colder shower before you get a stroke from being a raging idiot online. lol.

  3. Mac whitewood Reply

    Danes are very sensitive about their queen and I can remember I met a danish man for couple of years ago and he became angry and irritated when I made an innocent joke about their queen. And now they make mockery of something and more than 1.5 billion people hold dear to their heart.

  4. Sean Chow Fung Reply

    Remember:
    Whenever you joke about others’ misfortune, the joke is actually on YOU! Yet, if you cannot even see this, you NEVER will!

  5. Jack Reply

    And wasn’t Trump’s cancellation of state visit to Denmark when he couldn’t buy Greenland a gesture of insult to the Queen and country?
    It’s Ok to bully one country but being bullied by a fellow NATO ally and yet appeared diplomatic speak of the hypocrisy, and maybe racism, of the who issue.

  6. Jan Pederson Reply

    Actually… as a Dane, that Nazi Swastika flag is pretty clever. It’s not clever satire (as it’s just clearly just lashing back at a perceived insult) but still quite clever.

    If Denmark ever support neo-nazi sympathizers, I’d definitely approve of a Chinese newspaper ( or any newspaper ) using that Danish Swastika flag in a comic. Well done!

  7. Gloria Reply

    This cartoon is not “racist”. It is pointing out the obvious.

    The world is suffering unnecessary and tragic deaths, family separations, loss jobs and sunk economies.

    A massive worldwide disaster…..and a preventable one.

    Get your damn act, together, China. Demand better of your “government.”

    Blood is on China’s hands again and again. And no amount of cheap merchandise is worth the price.

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