Several U.S. Citizens ‘Brutally Stabbed’ in China: Latest Updates

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Jilin Bridge and Century Square in 2004 Credit - Wikimedia Commons

Police in China arrested a suspect on Tuesday after four American teachers were stabbed the previous day in broad daylight in a Chinese park.

The educators—who are affiliated with Iowa’s Cornell College, a small liberal arts college about two hours east of Des Moines, and were in China as part of a partnership with Beihua University in Jilin, a northeastern province—were “injured in a serious incident” while they were visiting a public park accompanied by a Beihua faculty member, school president Jonathan Bard announced in an email on Monday to the Cornell community. “We have been in contact with all four instructors and are assisting them during this time,” Bard said, adding that no students were taking part in the program.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson acknowledged the incident Tuesday. He said that all the victims were “sent to the hospital as soon as possible and received proper treatment” and that the case is under investigation.

Local police issued a notice on Tuesday, according to Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao and Radio Free Asia, that said five people suffered “varying degrees” of non-life-threatening injuries at Beishan Park around 11:40 a.m. on Monday. The notice identified the suspect as Cui Dapeng—a male resident of Longtan District, Jilin City. After police announced an arrest hours later, state media reported, a preliminary investigation found that Cui had collided with one foreigner while walking in the park and proceeded to stab them and three foreigners with them as well as a Chinese tourist who attempted to intervene.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department told TIME that it is aware of the stabbing of three U.S. citizens in Jilin and is closely monitoring the situation. U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns posted on X on Tuesday that the fourth American is a non-citizen resident and that a consular officer visited all the victims in hospital. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan added that the U.S. is working with Chinese authorities to “ensure that the victims’ needs are met, & appropriate law enforcement steps are being taken.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds posted on X that she is in touch with Iowa’s federal delegation and the State Department and said: “Please pray for [the victims’] full recovery, safe return, and their families here at home.”

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, whose district includes Cornell College, posted on X that she was “horrified” the school’s faculty members were “brutally stabbed” and that her team is working to bring the injured Iowans home safely. Hinson’s colleague Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, also a Republican from Iowa, posted that her office is in touch with one of the impacted families and is requesting to speak with the U.S. Embassy “to ensure that the victims first receive quality care for their injuries and then get out of #China in a medically feasible manner.” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, offered a message similar to Reynolds’.

Iowa State Rep. Adam Zabner told Reuters and CBS News that his brother David was among the victims and that the group was on its way to visit a temple when they were attacked by a man with a knife. David, the state representative said, was “wounded in the arm” but is recovering in hospital and “doing well.” Other victims have not yet been publicly identified.

Videos purportedly of the aftermath of the stabbing have circulated on X, showing at least three people on the ground bleeding, surrounded by onlookers. Chinese social media posts on the topic appeared to be censored.

In a since-removed post on Weibo, Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, said he hoped the foreign victims were “random targets” and that their stabbing was “accidental.” The suspect’s motive remains unclear.

On X—which is blocked to the Chinese public but used by many government officials, Chinese companies, and state media—Hu posted that he condemned the attack. He also insisted that it was “an isolated case,” and he emphasized that the Chinese public’s general sentiment toward foreigners “is friendly.”

Washington and Beijing have emphasized in recent months how increasing people-to-people exchanges, which have significantly declined since the pandemic, can help to improve the U.S.-China relationship that’s been strained by geopolitical tensions.

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