(Bloomberg) -- A Japanese woman and her child were attacked with a knife in a Chinese city near Shanghai, adding to a flurry of stabbing incidents in a country where violence is relatively rare. 

An unidentified man attacked the Japanese woman and her child at a bus stop in Suzhou city on Monday afternoon, according to the Japanese embassy in China. The suspect, who appeared to be Chinese, has been taken into custody, the embassy said in a statement. 

The Suzhou police said the attack was carried out by an unemployed man, 52, who goes by the surname Zhou. Besides the two Japanese nationals, a Chinese citizen was also attacked and sustained “severe injury,” the police said.

The attack follows a string of stabbing incidents across China in recent weeks. Earlier this month, four US college instructors were stabbed in a public park in the northeastern city of Jilin. China’s Foreign Ministry said it was an isolated incident. The spate of attacks drew reaction from Chinese social media users, with some linking the incidents to discontent over the economic downturn.

The Japanese embassy said stabbing incidents have been reported in public places throughout China in recent days, warning its nationals to be aware of their surroundings. 

“According to preliminary police assessment, this was an isolated event and further investigation is still underway,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Tuesday at a regular press briefing in Beijing. “Such isolated incidents could happen in any country in the world.” 

The knifing incident could mark a setback to China-Japan ties, which have been rocked by disputes over Tokyo’s discharge of treated nuclear wastewater and the Senkaku Islands that both sides claim as their own. 

Still, Japanese companies are the single largest source of foreign direct investments in China by country, although those firms are becoming much less willing to add new money as the Chinese economy slows and geopolitical tensions rise. There are 11 Japanese schools operating in mainland China.

In her remarks, Mao tried to reassure people heading to China that the nation was safe. “China always welcomes foreign nationals to visit China as tourists and to study, do business and live in China,” she said. 

--With assistance from Philip Glamann.

(Updates with comments from Suzhou police in third paragraph.)

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