A professor from the U.S. has been sentenced to death in China for the murder of a Chinese woman. 

On Thursday, the Intermediate People’s Court of Ningbo, a city in China’s eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, found Shadeed Abdulmateen guilty of fatally stabbing a 21-year old college student who was identified by her surname, Chen, ABC News reports. The two were in a romantic relationship starting in 2019, but Chen had wanted to break off the relationship before she was stabbed to death in June 2021. 

Abdulmateen, a native of Los Angeles, graduated from the University of Phoenix before heading to China where he took up a teaching position at Ningbo University of Technology, according to an online self-introduction from 2013. 

The court in Ningbo found that Abdulmateen's “premeditated revenge killing, stabbing and cutting Chen’s face and neck several times...was motivated by vile motives, resolute intent and cruel means, and the circumstances of the crime were particularly bad." In light of these facts, the court found that he should receive a death sentence for his actions. 

Chen’s murder sparked a backlash in corners of the Chinese internet, where Abdulmateen's race and nationality (Abdulmateen is Black), received a significant amount of attention. The Global Times, a news outlet associated with the Chinese Communist Party, caught onto this and released its own article that said foreigners should receive no special treatment in criminal cases but discouraged any focus on race or nationality in the case.

According to CNN, a spokesperson from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing acknowledged the decision and added that officials were “monitoring the situation” but would not comment further due to privacy considerations.

It is unknown how many executions are carried out annually in China, but Amnesty International speculates that the number is likely in the thousands. Beijing has sentenced foreigners to death in the past, including citizens from Japan, Kenya, Uganda, and South Korea on charges of drug trafficking.