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Tragic Stabbing Incident Strikes US College Instructors in China

Tuesday 11 June 2024 - 08:45
Tragic Stabbing Incident Strikes US College Instructors in China

In a shocking turn of events that has cast a pall over academic exchanges between the United States and China, four American university instructors from Cornell College in Iowa were hospitalized after a disturbing stabbing incident at a public park in the northern Chinese province of Jilin. This harrowing ordeal has sent ripples of concern through the international community, underscoring the importance of ensuring safety for foreign visitors in China.

The details of the incident, as shared by Iowa Representative Adam Zabner, paint a chilling picture. His brother, David Zabner, was among the four instructors who fell victim to the unprovoked attack by an unknown assailant wielding a knife. The group had been visiting a local temple in Jilin City on Monday when the brutal assault occurred at Beishan Park.

David Zabner, a doctoral student at Tufts University, sustained stab wounds to his arm during the harrowing ordeal. Despite the severity of the situation, his brother expressed cautious optimism, stating, "He has not yet been released this morning, but he's doing ok." The other injured instructors, whose identities remain undisclosed, were also swiftly rushed to the hospital for immediate medical attention.

Cornell College, the institution at the heart of this tragedy, released a statement confirming the "serious incident" and shedding light on the circumstances surrounding the attack. The instructors had been engaged in teaching as part of an academic partnership with a university in China, accompanied by a member of Beihua University during their visit to the park.

China's foreign ministry moved swiftly to address the incident, reassuring the public that none of the injured individuals were in life-threatening condition. However, spokesperson Lin Jian remained tight-lipped regarding the apprehension of the assailant, citing the need for further investigation. In a bid to allay broader concerns, Lin Jian emphasized China's reputation as one of the safest countries globally and affirmed the nation's commitment to ensuring the safety of foreign visitors.

The incident has sparked a flurry of reactions and discussions on Chinese social media platforms, with images circulating depicting the aftermath of the stabbing, showing at least three individuals lying on the ground, bleeding. However, the incident appears to have been swiftly censored, with search terms related to the attack yielding no results on Weibo, China's popular microblogging platform.

Online commentator Hu Xijin, formerly the chief editor of China's Global Times, initially attempted to downplay the incident, describing it as a "chance event" and highlighting China's typically friendly attitude toward foreign visitors. However, his post was subsequently removed, adding to the shroud of uncertainty surrounding the incident.

Amid the tumultuous diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington, both nations have sought to re-establish people-to-people exchanges, with Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiling a plan to invite 50,000 young Americans to China over the next five years. However, incidents like the stabbing in Jilin threaten to undermine these efforts, as the US State Department has already issued travel advisories discouraging Americans from visiting China.

As the investigation into this tragic incident continues, the international community eagerly awaits answers and assurances from Chinese authorities regarding the safety and well-being of foreign visitors. The attack on the Cornell College instructors serves as a sobering reminder of the need for heightened vigilance and robust security measures to protect academic and cultural exchanges, which serve as vital bridges between nations.

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