China: Four US instructors stabbed in public

Four US university tutors are in hospital after being stabbed by an unidentified assailant at a public park in Jilin province, northern China. The instructors, from Iowa’s Cornell College, were injured in what the college described as a “serious incident” during a daytime visit to the park. Iowa Representative Adam Zabner confirmed that his brother, David, was among those injured. The group was visiting a local temple on Monday when they were attacked by a man with a knife. David Zabner was stabbed in the arm and is recovering in hospital.

A US State Department spokesperson acknowledged awareness of the incident but provided no further details. The Cornell College instructors were in China teaching as part of a partnership with Beihua University and were accompanied by a member of the university at the time of the attack.

Chinese authorities have not yet commented on the incident. Images of the aftermath quickly circulated on social media, showing at least three people bleeding and lying on the ground, but these images appear to have been swiftly censored on Chinese internet platforms. Searches for terms related to the incident yielded no results, despite the topic trending on Weibo, and there have been few reports in Chinese state media.

David Zabner, a Tufts University doctoral student, was on his second trip to China with Cornell College. The incident occurs amid tense diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington, although both sides have been trying to re-establish people-to-people exchanges. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced a plan to invite 50,000 young Americans to China over the next five years, while Chinese diplomats have noted that a US travel advisory has discouraged Americans from visiting China.

Efforts to manage the aftermath of the stabbing and ensure the safety of those involved are ongoing. The condition of the other three injured tutors has not been detailed, but they are also receiving medical treatment in Jilin province.

Cornell College has expressed concern for the well-being of its instructors and is working closely with local authorities and the US embassy to provide support and ensure their safe return to the US. The college’s statement emphasized the importance of their educational partnerships and the benefits of cultural exchange, despite the recent tragedy.

Meanwhile, discussions among internet users in China highlight the sensitivity of the incident. Due to the apparent censorship, many resorted to discussing the event under unrelated topics or indirectly seeking information. The Chinese government’s response to the incident and how it might affect diplomatic relations remains uncertain.

The incident highlights the complexities of international travel and educational exchanges amid fluctuating geopolitical tensions. The US State Department’s travel advisory for China, which cites risks including arbitrary enforcement of local laws and wrongful detentions, may see renewed scrutiny and caution following this event.

This violent episode underscores the need for robust safety protocols for educational institutions and their staff when participating in international programs. Both the US and Chinese governments will likely review and potentially reinforce measures to protect their citizens abroad.

As the investigation continues, more details are expected to emerge about the circumstances of the attack and the motives of the assailant. The international community watches closely, hoping for a swift resolution and the safe recovery of the injured tutors.

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