Stabbing suspect in custody in 'horrifying attack' of 4 US college instructors in China

ByLeah Sarnoff ABCNews logo
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Suspect in custody in the stabbing of 4 US college instructors: China police
Jilin city police said Tuesday a 55-year-old man surnamed Cui was walking in a public park when he bumped into a foreigner.

JILIN CITY, China -- Chinese police have detained a suspect in a stabbing attack on four instructors from Iowa's Cornell College who were teaching at a Chinese university in the northeast city of Jilin, officials said Tuesday.

Four instructors from Cornell College in Iowa were injured in a "serious incident" while overseas in China, the university said in a statement Monday.

The incident took place in a public park in Jilin City, China, on Sunday, according to the statement.

Jilin city police said a 55-year-old man surnamed Cui was walking in a public park on Monday when he bumped into a foreigner. He stabbed the foreigner and three other foreigners who were with him, and also stabbed a Chinese person who approached in an attempt to intervene, police said.

Cornell College has a partnership with Beihua University and the instructors were accompanied by a local faculty member when the incident occurred, the university said.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds released a statement on X Monday, saying she's been in contact with Iowa's federal delegation and the state department "in response to this horrifying attack."

"Please pray for their full recovery, safe return, and their families here at home," Reynolds wrote.

In a statement, the Department of State said it was "aware of reports of a stabbing incident in Jilin, People's Republic of China."

"We are monitoring the situation and have no further comments at this time," the department's statement read.

Cornell College is a private liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

News of the incident was suppressed in China, where the government maintains control on information about anything considered sensitive. News media outlets had not reported it. Some social media accounts posted foreign media reports about the attack, but a hashtag about it was blocked on a popular portal and photos and video of the incident were quickly taken down.

According to a 2020 post on Beihua's website, the Chinese university uses American teaching methods and resources to give engineering students an international perspective and English-language ability.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has unveiled a plan to invite 50,000 young Americans to China in the next five years, though Chinese diplomats say a travel advisory by the U.S. State Department has discouraged Americans from visiting China.

Citing arbitrary detentions as well as exit bans that could prevent Americans from leaving the country, the State Department has issued a Level 3 travel advisory - the second-highest warning level - for mainland China. It urges Americans to "reconsider travel" to China.

Some American universities have suspended their China programs due to the travel advisory.

Lin, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said China has taken effective measures to protect the safety of foreigners. "We believe that the isolated incident will not disrupt normal cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries," he said.

ABC News' Darren Reynolds contributed to this report.

AP News contributed to this report.

Tang reported from Washington, D.C. Associated Press writer Summer Ballentine in Columbia, Missouri, contributed to this report.