American College Instructors Stabbed in China

News & Politics

A local man was arrested on Tuesday for stabbing four American college instructors and a Chinese national in a public park in the city of Jilin in northeastern China. Attacks on foreigners in Mainland China are unusually rare, and Beijing has stated that visitors are safe there.

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The four Americans were visiting from Cornell College, a small private liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa, when they were attacked in broad daylight in Beishan Park, a popular venue in the center of Jilin. The American educators were walking with faculty members from Beihua University, which partners with Cornell College, when they were assaulted.

The suspect, identified by the authorities as Cui, a 55-year-old man from Jilin’s Longtan District, CNN reported. Chinese officials said that Cui “collided with a foreigner while walking” in the popular park before he began his stabbing spree.

A local tourist who attempted to stop the assailant was also stabbed, according to police, who received a call around 11:49 a.m., Beijing time on Monday. Officers were immediately sent to the scene and transported the victims to the hospital for treatment.

Graphic images showing the aftermath of the attack soon emerged on Chinese social media, before being quickly censored, according to CNN. The video showed two bloodied men and a woman lying on the ground, appearing conscious and talking on their mobile phones and surrounded by locals.

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A spokesman for the foreign ministry in Beijing, Lin Jian, called the incident “isolated” and that the authorities would protect the safety of foreigners in China. 

“The police preliminarily judged that the case was isolated. Further investigation is underway,” said Jian, who added that the injured instructors “have all received proper medical treatment and are not in danger.”

The spokesman said that the stabbings would not “affect the normal development of China-US people-to-people exchanges.”

“China is widely recognized as one of the safest countries in the world. China has always taken effective measures and will continue to take relevant measures to effectively protect the safety of all foreigners in China,” he added.

“We have been in contact with all four instructors and are assisting them during this time,” said Cornell College President Jonathan Brand in a statement.

The U.S. State Department told CNN that it was aware of the incident and is currently monitoring the situation.

This latest incident comes as Sino-American relations have been hitting a low due to issues ranging from worsening tensions over Taiwan, an ongoing trade conflict, technological rivalries, and Beijing’s attempts to expand its influence across the globe. 

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The Chinese Communist leader Xi Jinping, recently called for more student exchanges to help thaw U.S.-China relations. In a letter last week to the president of Kean University in New Jersey, Xi asked for universities in China and America to “strengthen exchanges and cooperation.” 

Knife assaults have been on the rise in China, which has seen a wave of stabbing sprees in public places in recent years, but attacks against foreigners have been rare.

Two people were killed and another 21 injured in a knife attack in a hospital in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan in May, while last year, six people were killed when a man stabbed schoolchildren in Guangdong province. 

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