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4 US college instructors stabbed in attack at Chinese public park

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Four university tutors from Iowa were stabbed by an unknown assailant in an attack at a public park in China on Monday, according to Chinese and U.S. government officials. 

The educators from Iowa Cornell College were attacked during a daytime visit to the park in northeast China’s Jilin province and were taken to hospital, the officials told Reuters. Monday was a public holiday in China.

China’s foreign ministry says that none of the injured are in a life-threatening condition and said the incident was a “random attack” that would “not affect normal people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States.”

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People gather around four American educators from an Iowa university, who were reportedly stabbed in a public park, according to the U.S. media and U.S. government officials, in Jilin City, Jilin province, China (Reuters)

The group had been visiting a temple in Beishan Park when they were attacked by a man with a knife, he added. The educators were on a teaching exchange program with a partner university, Beihua, in Jilin City, and the incident took place while they were at the park with a faculty member from Beihua.

Adam Zabner, a member of the Iowa House of Representatives, told Reuters his brother was one of the victims from Cornell College in Iowa.

“My brother, David Zabner, was wounded in the arm during a stabbing attack while visiting a temple in Jilin City, China,” he said.

“I spoke to David… He is recovering from his injuries and doing well. My family is incredibly grateful that David survived this attack.”

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Jilin province on a map

The stabbing attack took place in northeast China’s Jilin province (Google Maps)

A State Department spokesperson told Reuters that they were aware of reports of a “stabbing incident” in Jilin, China, and were monitoring the situation.

Images circulating on social media purporting to be from the scene show two men and a woman on the ground, with one of the men’s clothes covered in blood. However, the incident appears to have been censored on China’s internet.

News media outlets had not reported it. Some social media accounts posted foreign media reports about the attack, but a hashtag about it was blocked on a popular portal and photos and video of the incident were quickly taken down, according to the Associated Press. 

“We are working through proper channels and requesting to speak with the U.S. Embassy on appropriate matters to ensure that the victims first receive quality care for their injuries and then get out of China in a medically feasible manner,” Iowa’s Congress representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks wrote on X.

It is unclear if the suspect was apprehended. 

Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping  this year pledged to invite 50,000 young Americans to China for study programs to boost people-to-people ties. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)

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China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lin Jian said the incident was isolated and an investigation is underway. 

“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,” Jian said, per the BBC.

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

China’s President Xi Jinping this year pledged to invite 50,000 young Americans to China for study programs to boost people-to-people ties, but a State Department Level 3 travel advisory to China warning of possible arbitrary detention and exit bans remains in place.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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