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Four American educators stabbed in park in China

Four American educators from Cornell College were injured in a stabbing attack that took place in a park in Northeastern China.

The four educators were in China as a part of a partnership between Cornell College and Beihua University in Jilin City. The program has been running since 2018, where Beihua provides funding for Cornell professors to travel to China and teach STEM courses over a two-week period.

According to authorities, the attack happened on Monday shortly before noon, where the four instructors, accompanied by a Beihua faculty member, were visiting a public park. There, a 55-year-old man, Cui Dapeng, was walking in the park as well.

According to Jilin City police, in a social media post translated by Reuters, “Cui collided into a foreigner while walking in Beishan Park, and then stabbed the foreigner and three fellow foreigners with a knife, as well as a Chinese tourist who tried to stop him”. Despite the stab wounds, Jilin City police said that the victim’s injuries were not life threatening.

A video supposedly depicting the aftermath of the attack, showing three people, covered in blood, lying on the ground, circulated on X. The same video appeared to be censored on Chinese social media. According to KCRG-TV, Chinese coverage of the attack is limited, and state media usually adheres to the original account.

This censorship has been criticized by users on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. In an Reuters article published on Tuesday, one user said “Do they really think that censoring domestic discussion of the incident impacts whether foreigners choose to visit China or not”.

Cornell College president Jonathan Bard, said that “We have been in contact with all four instructors and are assisting them during this time”, in an email statement released to the Cornell community.

Lin Jian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, acknowledged the incident on Tuesday, saying that the victims were “sent to the hospital as soon as possible and received proper treatment”, and that the case is currently under investigation.

“China has taken effective measures and will continue to take relevant measures to protect the safety of foreign nationals in China.”, he continued in a CBS article published on Tuesday. “We believe that the isolated incident will not disrupt normal cultural and people-to-people exchange between the two countries.”.

Iowa State Rep. Adam Zabner told Reuters and CBS that his brother, David Zabner, was one of the four victims. “My brother, David Zabner, was wounded in the arm during a stabbing attack while visiting a temple in Jilin City, China”, Zabner said.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, said on X that “I am in touch with Iowa’s federal delegation and the state department in response to this horrifying attack. Please pray for their full recovery, safe return, and their families here at home.”.

Over the recent months, both Washington and Beijing have emphasized increased people-to-people exchanges, which have seen a sharp decline since the pandemic. Both also see these exchanges as a way to mend U.S. – China relations, which has become increasingly strained over recent years due to geopolitical tensions.

According to multiple sources, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, unveiled a plan to “invite 50,000 young Americans to China in the next five years, though Chinese diplomats say a travel advisory by the U.S. State Department has discouraged Americans from visiting China.”. The U.S. State Department issued a Level 3 travel advisory for mainland China, and has considered Americans to “reconsider travel”, warning of potential arbitrary detentions and exit bans.

U.S. data shows that there are currently less than 900 American students studying in China, while 290,000 Chinese students are studying in the United States.

Cui was arrested by Chinese authorities on Monday and is currently in custody. His motives behind the attack currently remain unknown.

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