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Four US college instructors stabbed in public park in China

Adam Zabner David Zabner

Police in China have arrested a 55-year-old man after four US university tutors were stabbed by an assailant at a public park in a rare attack on foreigners.

The Iowa Cornell College instructors are in hospital after a “serious incident” during a daytime visit to the park in the northern province of Jilin, a college statement said.

Iowa Representative Adam Zabner said his brother, David, was one of the four instructors injured in the incident, which he described as a stabbing.

China’s foreign ministry says that none of the injured are in a life-threatening condition.

Police said an assailant with the surname Cui clashed with one of the Americans and then stabbed the person. He went on to injure three other US visitors and a Chinese tourist who tried to come to their rescue.

Mr Zabner said the group of instructors had been visiting a local temple on Monday when they were attacked by a man with a knife.

He said his brother had been stabbed in the arm at Beishan Park in Jilin city and was recovering well in hospital.

“My family is incredibly grateful that David survived this attack,” he told the BBC.

“We’d like to see David home in Iowa as soon as possible,” he added. “We’re deeply thankful to the state department and Iowa’s federal delegation and understand that they are working hard to make that happen.”

Cornell College said the four instructors had been teaching “as part of a partnership with a university in China”. The group had been accompanied by a member of Beihua University at the time of their visit to the park on Monday.

China’s foreign ministry said the injured were immediately rushed to hospital where they received treatment.

Spokesperson Lin Jian told reporters that police believe the attack was a random incident, but an investigation is ongoing.

“This was an isolated incident and the investigation continues,” he said. “China is widely considered one of the safest countries in the world and China will continue to take relevant measures to ensure that foreigners are safe in the country.”

“We believe this will not damage relations with other countries,” he added.

A US state department spokesperson had earlier told the BBC they were aware of reports of a stabbing incident in Jilin, but could not provide more information.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that she was in contact with the department about the “horrifying” attack.

“Please pray for their full recovery, safe return, and their families here at home,” she wrote.

Images of the incident circulating online appear to show at least three people bleeding and lying on the ground.

Reuters A man lies on the ground after a stabbing attack
The instructors had been visiting a local temple on Monday when they were attacked by a man with a knife

However, the pictures appear to have been quickly censored on China’s internet.

On Tuesday, searches for terms such as “foreigners Jilin” produced no results despite the search term trending on Weibo.

Internet users instead resorted to discussions under adjacent topics while some were also seen asking for more information about the incident.

Online commentator Hu Xijin, who is formerly the chief editor of China’s Global Times, had earlier posted on Weibo that China has been seeing a growing number of foreign visitors and the Chinese are “typically friendly” toward them. He described the incident as a “chance event”.

The post has since been removed.

There are also few reports about the incident in Chinese state media.

Mr Zabner said his brother, a Tufts University doctoral student, had visited China before and was on his second trip to the country with Cornell College.

According to a 2018 news release from Cornell, the US school began a partnership with Beihua University that year to provide money for Cornell professors to live in China and teach a part of a course over a two-week period.

The partnership focused on computer science, mathematics and physics, Cornell said at the time.

Beihua University serves 24,000 students in the north-eastern Chinese city of 4.4 million people.

Amid tense diplomatic relations, Beijing and Washington have sought to re-establish people-to-people exchanges in recent times.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has unveiled a plan to invite 50,000 young Americans to China in the next five years, while Chinese diplomats say a travel advisory by the US State Department has discouraged Americans from going to China.


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