Chinese people have expressed their fury at Denmark by putting images of the swastika, sanitary pads and skulls on the European country's flag and sharing the illustrations on social media.
The online campaign started after a Danish newspaper published a satirical cartoon about the deadly coronavirus and then refused to apologise - moves that infuriated China.
The controversial cartoon, published in daily broadsheet Jyllands-Posten on Monday, depicted a Chinese flag with drawings of the coronavirus, which replaced the five yellow stars normally found in the upper left corner of the emblem.
Danish Prime Minister said her country had 'freedom of expression' while responding to demands by Beijing for an apology over what it deemed as 'an insult to China'.
The killer coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world has now killed at least 213 people in China and infected nearly 9,900 globally.
Two people in England were diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus today, making the UK the 23rd country or territory outside of China to have caught the virus.
The Chinese embassy in Denmark said on Monday that the Danish cartoon crossed the 'ethical boundary of free speech' and offended 'human conscience'.
It demanded the paper and cartoonist Niels Bo Bojesen 'reproach themselves for their mistake and publicly apologise to the Chinese people'.
But on Tuesday Jyllands-Posten's chief editor Jacob Nybroe said they would not 'dream of' poking fun at the situation in China but also refused to apologise.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen cited freedom of speech in Danish society when she reacted to the diplomatic row.
'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,' Frederiksen said, according to The Local.
While Beijing has not released any further statement regarding the matter, the Chinese public have directed their anger at the Nordic nation by launching a so-called 'Danish national flag cartoon competition' on Weibo, the country's equivalent to Twitter.
Various renditions circulating on the popular platform show images of swastika, sanitary pads, skulls and the cartoonist in question being added to the red banner with a white Scandinavian cross.
Chinese web users also referenced white flags and the phrase 'four hours' as they pointed out that Denmark surrendered to Germany after being attacked for a few hours during the Second World War.
The official Weibo account of the Embassy of Denmark in China has been flooded with messages and cartoons from outraged Chinese people.
In a rebuttal yesterday, Jyllands-Posten claimed that cartoonists from Belgium, Holland and Mexico had also drawn the Chinese flags with symbols representing the coronavirus, but they had not had the same angry reaction from the Asian country.
Jylland-Posten is no stranger to controversy. In 2005, it published several cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, which later contributed to violent protests in some Muslim countries.
The coronavirus has now infected every region of China. Chinese officials have now confirmed more than 9,750 cases, while more than 100 have been recorded outside of nation – taking the toll to more than 9,891.
Deaths have also risen to 213, with 43 patients dying in one day - the biggest 24-hour jump since the outbreak began last month.
After the World Health Organisation last night declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a global health emergency, it has also emerged:
- The first two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK;
- After two days of uncertainty, a 747 rescue plane carrying mainly British citizens took from the city of Wuhan last night, touching down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at around 1pm;
- It left China carrying 83 Britons - but had been expected to be carrying 150;
- Several people with seats reveal they have been stranded after being given between seven minutes and two hours to get to the airport in city with public transport shut down;
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.