4 Cornell College Professors Stabbed During Teaching Trip in China

The instructors were visiting as part of a teaching exchange program with a Chinese university when they were stabbed in a public park.
Published: June 12, 2024

JILIN CITY, China — A man has been arrested in connection with the stabbing of four Iowa college professors teaching in China as part of a partnership with a local university.

The Cornell College instructors were visiting Beishan Park with a faculty member from Beihua University on Monday when officials say a 55-year-old man stabbed all four Americans after one of them bumped into him, CBS reports. Local police said the suspect also stabbed a Chinese tourist when they tried to intervene.

Police said they received the call around 11:49 a.m. local time Monday and dispatched officers to the public park. Cell phone footage shows two men and a woman lying on the ground covered in blood. They appeared conscious and were talking on their cell phones.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lin Jian said Tuesday that none of the foreign nationals were critically injured during the “isolated incident” and that they were all “rushed to the hospital and received proper medical treatment.”

Iowa’s Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks said her office was in touch with the U.S. Embassy in China to ensure the victims receive quality care and are brought home safely. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said she was in touch with the state’s federal delegation and the State Department.

“China is widely considered one of the safest countries in the world. China has taken effective measures and will continue to take relevant measures to protect the safety of foreign nationals in China,” Lin continued. “We believe that the isolated incident will not disrupt normal cultural and people-to-people exchange between the two countries.”

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Mass Stabbings in China

China has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world, partly due to strict gun control and mass surveillance, CNN reports. However, it continues to face mass stabbings in public places, including hospitals and schools.

In May, two people were killed and another 21 were hurt in a knife attack in a hospital in the southwestern province of Yunnan.

Last year, six people were killed and one was injured in a stabbing outside a kindergarten in southern Guangdong province. In 2022, three were killed and six were injured in another stabbing outside a kindergarten in eastern Jiangxi province.

Cornell College, Beihua University Partnership

The partnership between Cornell College and Beihua University started in 2018. According to information posted on Cornell’s website, the Chinese institution provides funding for educators from the Mount Vernon, Iowa, school to live in China and teach a portion of a course in areas of computer science, math, and physics during two-week periods.

China has been trying to increase its education cooperation with the U.S., which has suffered significant setbacks due to the pandemic and increased tensions between the two countries, according to CNN.

During a visit to the U.S. in November, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the country would invite 50,000 young Americans to China for exchange and study programs in the next five years to foster personal ties between the two countries.

Cornell College President Jonathan Brand said no students from the school were taking part in the program at the time of the stabbing incident.

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Strategy & Planning Series
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Strategy & Planning Series