China arrests suspected attacker of Cornell College tutors

The group, on a visit to a partner university in northeast China’s Jilin province, was stabbed while visiting a temple.

China has detained a man suspected of carrying out a stabbing attack on four American academics in the northeastern province of Jilin.

Police said on Tuesday that a 55-year-old man surnamed Cui had been detained. Authorities have sought to stress that the attack was an “isolated incident” and should not impact relations with the United States.

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Police in Jilin, an industrial city about 1,000km (600 miles) northeast of Beijing, said the suspect was walking in a public park on Monday when he bumped into the instructors from Iowa’s Cornell College. He stabbed them along with a Chinese person who tried to intervene.

There have been no reports regarding a motive for the attack.

The injured were rushed to a hospital for treatment, and none was in critical condition, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lin Jian said.

He said police believe the attack in Jilin city’s Beishan Park was an isolated incident, based on a preliminary assessment, and the investigation is ongoing.

“China is generally recognised as one of the safest countries in the world,” the spokesman said.

The country “will continue to take relevant measures to effectively protect the safety of all foreigners in China”, he added. “This isolated case will not affect the normal development of China-US people-to-people exchanges.”

On the ground

Adam Zabner, a member of the Iowa House of Representatives, told the Reuters news agency that his brother was one of the victims.

“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 a few minutes ago. He is recovering from his injuries and doing well. My family is incredibly grateful that David survived this attack,” he added.

A video of people lying on the ground in a park covered in blood was circulating on the social media platform X on Monday. There was no sign of the images on Chinese social media.

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

The Cornell College tutors were visiting Beihua, a partner university in Jilin.

Cornell College said they had been teaching “as part of a partnership with a university in China”.

“We are working through proper channels and requesting to speak with the US 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,” Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a member of the US House of Representatives from Iowa, wrote on X.

The state’s governor, Kim Reynolds, wrote on X that she was in touch with the US Department of State on the “horrifying” attack.

College spokesperson Jen Visser told the US news network CNN that the State Department was aware of reports of a stabbing in China and was monitoring the situation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping this year pledged to invite 50,000 young Americans to China for study programmes to boost people-to-people ties, but a US State Department level 3 travel advisory on China warning of possible arbitrary detention and exit bans remains in place.

There are fewer than 900 American exchange students studying in China compared with more than 290,000 Chinese students in the US, according to US data.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies