China hit-and-run 'caused by authoritarian system'


China's roads are among the world's most dangerous, with traffic laws and safety widely flouted, as almost 70,000 people died in road accidents in 2009, or around 190 fatalities a day, according to police statistics.



A video of a toddler in China involved in a hit-and-run and ignored by bystanders has led to outrage in the country and around the world this week. Much of the reaction has focused on how people could walk by this 2-year-old, lying in the street bleeding, and do nothing. Some now say that it's not modernity and urban life that is to blame -- it's China's authoritarian ways.

Globe and Mail correspondent Mark MacKinnon writes that people in China didn't help the struck toddler not because they didn't care but because they were too afraid to act.

The legal system here is unpredictable and unfair to those without money and political connections. Getting involved can often get you in trouble.

He writes that people are afraid that if they get involved and help someone in need, they could later be punished for being involved in the accident and forced to pay up.

A woman named Lin has gotten considerable attention after being identified as one of the Chinese bystanders who walked by the toddler and did nothing.

“I was scared,” she reportedly told Chinese media. “If someone (else) was helping at that time, I would have done the same.”

READ MORE FROM GLOBALPOST: China: Hit-and-run video sparks outcry

DISCUSSION: What's your take? Does China's authoritarian system prevent people from helping? Or could this incident have happened anywhere?