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Four lecturers from Cornell College in Iowa attacked in Jilin, China

Four lecturers from Cornell College in Iowa were attacked during a teaching stay in China, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The American educators were visiting Beihua University in the northeastern city of Jilin and were attacked in a park, the ministry said.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post, but told The Associated Press that it was aware of the reports of the stabbing and was monitoring the situation.

“We learned that on the morning of June 10, four foreign teachers from Beihua University … were attacked while touring the city’s Beishan Park,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian told reporters on Tuesday. “All of the injured have been taken to hospital. … None of them are in critical condition.”

Footage verified by Reuters and seen by The Washington Post shows at least three people lying on the ground, all conscious, with blood all around them and on at least one of their bodies, and surrounded by onlookers.

Chinese police believe the incident is an “isolated case,” Lin said. He added that “the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States serve the common interests of both sides and are positively supported by various sectors of both countries.”

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“China is generally considered one of the safest countries in the world,” he said.

Jonathan Brand, president of Cornell College, told AP that the lecturers were attacked while they were with a faculty member from Beihua.

Details about the identities and injuries of the four faculty members have not been released publicly. Cornell College, a private liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa, that has an educational partnership with Beihua University, told the AP it was gathering information about the incident.

Iowa Democratic Rep. Adam Zabner wrote in a statement posted on Instagram Tuesday morning that his brother David was “injured in the arm in a knife attack” in Jilin. Zabner said his brother is a doctoral student at Tufts University and was in China as part of a program with Cornell College and Beihua.

“I spoke to David a few minutes ago. He is recovering from his injuries and doing well,” Zabner said. “My family is incredibly grateful that David survived this attack.” Adam Zabner did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds called the attack “horrific” and said she was in contact with the State Department. “Please pray for their full recovery, safe return, and for their families here at home,” she tweeted.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa said she was “horrified that several Cornell College faculty members were brutally stabbed in China.” She added that her team was in contact with Cornell College and would “do everything in our power to bring these Iowans home safely.”

Major news agencies in China do not appear to be covering the attack, but social media posts referring to “Jilin” and “Jilin Beishan Park” were among the top topics on the microblogging site Weibo on Tuesday, and posts with the hashtag “Jilin Beishan Park” were viewed over four million times.

Relations between Beijing and Washington remain strained, with tensions over trade, Taiwan and security in the Indo-Pacific. The two countries have, however, maintained student exchanges. The Post reported in March that there are fewer than 1,000 American students in China, down from more than 10,000 before the pandemic. In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to invite 50,000 young Americans to China over the next five years as part of student exchange programs.

Xi also has personal memories of rural Iowa, having lived there for some time with an American host family as part of an agricultural program in 1985.

Shibani Mahtani and Pei-Lin Wu contributed to this report.