China Says Stabbing of Four Teachers Won’t Derail US Ties

(Bloomberg) -- China said an incident involving four teachers from a US college who were stabbed while walking in a park shouldn’t affect ties between the two nations.

Most Read from Bloomberg

“We believe that the isolated incident will not disrupt normal cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said Tuesday at a regular press briefing in Beijing. China “will continue to take relevant measures to protect the safety of foreign nationals,” Lin said.

The attack occurred on June 10 in Jilin, a city of some 4.1 million people in China’s rust belt, local police said in a statement on Tuesday. The police said that a suspect, a local man, was detained on the same day while those injured — including one Chinese person — received medical treatment. Lin said that none of the four educators was in a critical condition.

A video clip posted on social media showed three people using their phones while lying on the ground waiting for an ambulance afterward. One had blood on his side and lower back while another was holding an apparent injury to his back.

Cornell College President President Jonathan Brand said in a statement the teachers were visiting as part of a collaboration with a Chinese university. Cornell College, which is in the US state of Iowa, signed an agreement with Beihua University in Jilin city in 2018 to provide teachers for short periods.

A State Department spokesman said in an emailed statement that the US was aware of the incident and monitoring the situation.

The episode could be a setback for Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s push to step up exchanges between China and the US. Relations soured early last year after Washington accused Beijing of floating a spy balloon over the US. President Joe Biden later ordered the aircraft to be shot down over the Atlantic Ocean, a move China blasted as an overreaction.

The two superpowers have worked to repair their relationship, though differences remain over China’s exports, Taiwan’s status and more.

During a meeting with Biden in the US in November last year, Xi announced a plan to welcome 50,000 American students to China over the next five years. And last week, Xi called for more exchanges between Chinese and American universities to boost mutual understanding.

The stabbings could undermine that fence-mending, especially if there’s a backlash in the US over the stabbing incident.

Many posts on Chinese social media about the incident were quickly removed on Tuesday, including one from Hu Xijin, the former editor of Chinese state-backed Global Times newspaper.

The removals were likely due to China’s censors blocking discussion of the topic because it undercuts a claim made by diplomats — including Lin on Tuesday — that the nation is the safest in the world.

--With assistance from Jing Li, Ocean Hou and Li Liu.

(Updates with police statement on detention of suspect in third paragraph)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.