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China arrests a man in connection to stabbing of 4 U.S. college instructors

People gather around four American educators from an Iowa university, who were stabbed in a public park in Jilin City, Jilin province, China, in this still image taken from a video obtained by Reuters and released on Monday.
Reuters
People gather around four American educators from an Iowa university, who were stabbed in a public park in Jilin City, Jilin province, China, in this still image taken from a video obtained by Reuters and released on Monday.

Four U.S. instructors from a college in Iowa were injured in a stabbing in China, Chinese authorities said.

Police in the northeastern Chinese province of Jilin said on Tuesday the four victims are receiving medical care for non-life-threatening wounds and that they arrested a man in connection to the stabbing.

The man police arrested, a 55-year-old resident of Jilin with the surname Cui, is suspected of stabbing the four U.S. instructors in the city's Beishan Park on Monday, a police statement said. The statement said the suspect bumped into one of the Americans while walking in the park, and proceeded to stab the instructor and three other U.S. instructors, as well as a Chinese passerby who tried to intervene.

Violent attacks are relatively rare in China, and Beishan Park is a tourist destination replete with a temple, water features and landscaped pathways.

The four instructors were visiting China from Cornell College, a small private liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa, which has had an academic partnership with Beihua University in Jilin since 2018.

One of the stabbing victims, David Zabner, spoke to NPR member station Iowa Public Radio from a hospital about the incident.

Iowa state representatives say they have been in touch with both the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the victims' families. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan wrote on social media that the U.S. is "deeply concerned" by the incident.

China has been trying to attract more foreign visitors and businesses since lifting its pandemic-era travel restrictions nearly two years ago. It has extended visa-free travel to 11 European countries and Malaysia, and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has said he wants 50,000 young U.S. citizens to come to China on exchange and study abroad programs in the next five years.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said during a regularly scheduled press briefing Tuesday that the attack appeared to have been an isolated incident.

But analyst say that anti-Western sentiment in China, bolstered by growing nationalism and COVID-era restrictions, has been growing in recent years.

Lin said the attack would "not affect normal exchanges between the peoples of the United States and China.”

Copyright 2024 NPR

Emily Feng
Emily Feng is NPR's Beijing correspondent.