07:47 GMT26 February 2020
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    The Chinese Embassy called the eight-metre-tall statue, titled the Pillar of Shame, “misleading about the factual situation in Hong Kong” and detrimental to the relations between the countries.

    Danish-Chinese relations, already damaged by spying allegations and a recent cartoon scandal, appear to have reached a new low following the erection of a statue in support of the Hong Kong protests against China's government outside of the Danish parliament in Copenhagen.

    The eight-metre tall “Pillar of Shame” erected on the Parliament Square opposite Christiansborg was made by Danish artist Jens Galschiøt in “moral support” of the protesters.

    According to the newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the statue made the Chinese Embassy see red. The embassy called Galschiøt's work “misleading about the factual situation in Hong Kong” and tantamount to “interference with internal Chinese conditions”.

    Danish artist Jens Galschiot (L) works in front of the Danish Parliament Folketinget at Christiansborg Palace Square in Copenhagen, where he erected an 8-meter-high Pillar of Shame in solidarity with the protesters in Hong Kong on January 23, 2020
    © AFP 2019 / LISELOTTE SABROE
    Danish artist Jens Galschiot (L) works in front of the Danish Parliament Folketinget at Christiansborg Palace Square in Copenhagen, where he erected an 8-meter-high Pillar of Shame in solidarity with the protesters in Hong Kong on January 23, 2020

    ​Furthermore, the embassy suggested that the statue would be “detrimental to Danish-Chinese relations and the friendly relationship between the Chinese and Danish peoples”, adding that Chinese tourists would find the sculpture “particularly offensive” as well as that it might pose “a security risk”.

    According to Jyllands-Posten, the embassy contacted Copenhagen Municipality the day before the statue was erected suggesting that they withdraw the permit, which has been granted until April 2021.

    Former Speaker of Parliament Pia Kjærsgaard of the right-wing Danish People's Party called the embassy's attitude “tiresome”.

    “It's amazing how they thought they could throw their weight around in matters concerning our government”, Kjærsgaard said.

    Social Democrat Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said the embassy “naturally” had the right to an opinion, but emphasised that it mustn't result in “a praxis contrary to Danish law”.

    In late January, the very same Jyllands-Posten sparked a controversy by posting a cartoon depicting China's flag with coronaviruses instead of the yellow stars to mark the deadly epidemic in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which the country's embassy found offensive to the entire Chinese nation.

    Numerous Danish politicians, including Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, dismissed the criticism, citing free speech.

    Hong Kong has seen unrelenting protests since June. While the demonstrations were initially a response to an unpopular extradition bill, they continued even after the bill was withdrawn in October, and later turned violent. Beijing sees the situation in Hong Kong as the result of foreign interference in China's domestic affairs.

     

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