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Four American college educators attacked in park in China

1 week ago 17

Four instructors from Cornell College in Iowa were attacked during a teaching visit in China, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The American educators were visiting Beihua University in the northeastern city of Jilin and were attacked while in a park, the ministry said.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post but told the Associated Press it was aware of reports of a stabbing and was monitoring the situation.

“We learned that on the morning of June 10, four foreign teachers from Beihua University … were attacked when touring the city’s Beishan Park,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian told reporters on Tuesday. “All of the injured were rushed to hospital. … None of them are in a critical condition.”

Footage verified by Reuters and viewed by The Washington Post showed at least three people lying on the ground, all conscious, with blood around them and on at least one of their bodies, as they are surrounded by onlookers.

Chinese police believe the event to be an “isolated incident,” said Lin. He added that “cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States serve the common interests of both sides and have been positively supported by various sectors of the two countries.”

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“China is widely considered one of the safest countries in the world,” he said.

Cornell College President Jonathan Brand told the AP the instructors were attacked while with a faculty member from Beihua.

Details on the four instructors’ identities and injuries have not been publicly released. Cornell College, a private liberal arts school in Mount Vernon, Iowa, that has an educational partnership with Beihua University, told the AP it was gathering information about the incident.

Iowa state Rep. Adam Zabner (D) wrote in a statement posted on Instagram on Tuesday morning that his brother, David, was “wounded in the arm during a stabbing attack” in Jilin. Zabner said his brother is a PhD student at Tufts University and was in China as part of a program with Cornell College and Beihua.

“I spoke to David a few minutes ago. He is recovering from his injuries and doing well,” Zabner said. “My family is incredibly grateful that David survived this attack.” Adam Zabner did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) called the attack “horrifying” and said she was in touch with the State Department. “Please pray for their full recovery, safe return, and their families here at home,” she tweeted.

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) said she was “horrified that multiple Cornell College faculty members were brutally stabbed in China.” She added that her team was in communication with Cornell College and “will do everything in our power to bring these Iowans home safely.”

Mainstream news outlets in China did not appear to cover the news of the attack, but social media posts referencing “Jilin” and “Jilin Beishan Park” were among the top trending topics on the microblogging site Weibo on Tuesday, and posts with the hashtag “Jilin Beishan Park” had over 4 million views.

Relations between Beijing and Washington remain strained, with tensions over trade, Taiwan and security in the Indo-Pacific. However, the two countries have maintained student exchanges. The Post reported in March that there are fewer than 1,000 American students in China, down from more than 10,000 before the pandemic. In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to invite 50,000 young Americans to China on study exchange programs over the next five years.

Xi also has personal memories of rural Iowa, having spent time there in 1985 on an agricultural program, living with an American host family.

Shibani Mahtani and Pei-Lin Wu contributed to this report.

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