Copenhagen (AFP)

The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten refused Tuesday to apologize to China after the publication of a cartoon of the coronavirus in the columns of the daily, arousing the ire of the Chinese embassy in Copenhagen.

The caricature, published Monday in the pages of the Scandinavian daily newspaper and signed Niels Bo Bojesen, represents a Chinese flag where the five yellow stars normally present in the top left of the banner have been replaced by drawings of the new coronavirus, which appeared in late 2019 in China .

The Chinese Embassy in Denmark reacted on its website, calling the caricature "an insult to China (...) injuring the Chinese people".

According to Chinese authorities in Copenhagen, the drawing has crossed the "ethical limit of freedom of expression". The embassy demanded from the newspaper and its cartoonist "a public apology to the Chinese people".

"We can't apologize for something that we don't think is wrong. We don't intend to be humiliating or making fun of it, and we don't think the design is," said Tuesday Jacob Nybroe, the daily's editor, on the newspaper's website.

The epidemic of viral pneumonia, which appeared in the metropolis of Wuhan (central China) shows a death toll now exceeding 100 deaths in China, with more than 4,500 people infected in total.

The Jylland-Posten is no stranger to controversy: in 2005, the daily launched a wave of violent protests in the Arab world after the publication of cartoons of Muhammad.

© 2020 AFP