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US University instructors teaching in China targeted in violent assault

US University instructors teaching in China targeted in violent assault

Beijing: Four instructors from Iowa's Cornell College, teaching at Beihua University in northeastern China, were assaulted and injured with a knife in a public park, the officials at the US school and the State Department said.

There was no immediate comment from Chinese authorities about Monday's reports. Cornell College President Jonathan Brand said in a statement that the instructors were attacked while at the park with a faculty member from Beihua, which is in an outlying part of the industrial city of Jilin. The State Department said in a statement it was aware of reports of a stabbing and was monitoring the situation.

Details on the extent of the instructors' injuries and whether the attack was targeted or random were unclear Monday. Cornell spokesperson Jen Visser said in an email that the college was still gathering information on what happened.

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.

The attack happened as both Beijing and Washington are seeking to maintain people-to-people exchanges to help bolster relations amid tensions over trade and such international issues as Taiwan, the South China Sea and the war in Ukraine.

Visser, the Cornell spokesperson, said the private college in Mount Vernon, Iowa, partners with Beihua University. A college news release from 2018, when the programme started, says Beihua provides funding for Cornell professors to travel to China to teach a portion of courses in computer science, mathematics and physics over a two-week period

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. About one-third of the core courses in this particular programme use US textbooks and are taught by American professors, according to the post. Students can apply to study for two years of their four-year education at Cornell College and receive degrees from both institutions.

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 US 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 programmes due to the travel advisory. (AP)

Source: PTI

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