4 Iowa College Instructors Stabbed in China

4 Iowa College Instructors Stabbed in China
Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, in a file photo. (Courtesy of Cornell College via CNN Newsource)

BEIJING—Four American instructors from a small Iowa college were injured in a stabbing attack in a public park in northeast China’s Jilin province on Monday, according to Chinese and U.S. officials.

Local police said the incident occurred shortly before noon on Monday at a park in Jilin city and the suspect, a 55-year-old local man surnamed Cui, was detained the same day.

“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,” Jilin city police said in a social media statement, adding that the victims’ injuries were “not life-threatening.”

No further motive for the attack was disclosed in the statement.

China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said the incident was a random attack.

Iowa state Rep. Adam Zabner 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.”

The group had been visiting a temple in Beishan Park when they were attacked by a man with a knife, he added.

“The police have preliminarily judged that this was a random incident but an investigation is ongoing,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told reporters at a daily briefing on Tuesday.

“All the injured individuals were immediately taken to the hospital and were given appropriate critical care, no one’s life is in danger,” Mr. Lin said.

A video of people lying on the ground in a park covered in blood was circulating on X on Monday, though no trace of the images could be found on Chinese social media.

Reuters was able to identify the location of the video based on Chinese characters written on a wall, the wall’s structure and the layout of the path, but it was not able to confirm when the video was shot.

A few remaining posts about the incident on the Chinese social media platform Weibo questioned widespread censorship of the incident in official media.

“Do they really think that censoring domestic discussion of the incident impacts whether foreigners choose to visit China or not?” posted one Weibo user.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement that they were aware of reports of a “stabbing incident” in Jilin, China, and were monitoring the situation.

The educators from Cornell College were on a teaching exchange program with a partner university, Beihua, in Jilin City.

“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 Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks wrote on X.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping this year pledged to invite 50,000 young Americans to China for study programto 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.

There are currently fewer than 900 American exchange students studying in China compared to over 290,000 Chinese students in the United States, according to U.S. data.