The Asia Time’s Stephanie Wong reports that China has the highest traffic fatalities in the world, with 81,649 people killed in around 320,000 traffic accidents in 2007, 20% of the global total.
So why is China’s headed in a different? It is not due to a lack of traffic regulations, but rather because these rules are often deliberately ignored, particularly by the rich, privileged and powerful. The social injustice behind this issue has led to an increase in concern from the public… Even in more serious accidents, the rich believe their money can fix their mistakes while the privileged and powerful can settle such cases with their connections. Professor Kong Qingdong of Peking University has remarked publicly: “[Beijing’s policy of] ‘letting some people get rich first’ certainly does not mean to let such immoral guys get rich first”.
The public antipathy toward the newly rich also manifests the country’s dangerously growing wealth gap. China’s Gini coefficient – a measure of statistical dispersion – was 0.47 in 2007, well above the international alert line of 0.4. Even Ma Kai, the former director of the National Development and Reform Commission, admitted the country’s income disparity is widening. Many people believe that some wealth collection is associated with official corruption. Professor Mao Shoulong of Renmin University says the general dislike for the rich could be better interpreted as a “hatred of unfairness”.
Behind the traffic accidents there is the issue of social injustice which is a major source of growing public discontent. According to Professor Qing Lianbin of the Central Party School, such a mentality will definitely affect social harmony.
For more information, see past CDT posts on traffic accidents and the growing economic divide.
[Image courtesy of the People’s Daily]