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Some National Cultures More Tolerant of Death?

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One of my theories and interests is this: one interesting facet of culture is how a nation collectively deals with death.

After losing a friend to Taliban action in Pakistan recently, a Vitnamese friend said, “He knew the risks. He was in a war.”

Most Americans might respond in a vastly different way.

China’s huge populaion and large number of wartime casualties in World War II, Korea and other wars has perhaps numbed the leadership to death.

China has a huge incidence of accidental deaths by flooding and drowning, mine accidents and industrial accidents.

But for a moment lets look at automobile safety in three leaders in death by car accident: China, India and Vietnam.

A report from the World Health Organization in October 2004 estimated that more than 600 lives are lost and more than 45,000 people are injured on China’s roads every day. This makes China the top ranking country in the world for both the death toll and the death rate. And the figure is accelerating by an estimated 10 per cent every year.

China has more accidental deaths by car wrecks than any other nation in the world. Some 1.2 million people die every year on roads around the globe, about 20 percent of them in China and the percentage is rising.

China has a population of 1 billion 300 million.

“It was a little ironic as the overall number of vehicles in China is far smaller than that in Western countries, while the death rate from road accidents is much higher,” said Professor Wang who was quoted in the China Youth Daily earlier this year.

“According to our research, the death toll and death rate per 10,000 automobiles here is eight times more than that in America,” he said.

“The huge road toll in China is just a part of a global epidemic of road traffic accidents that accounts for the deaths of some 1.2 million men, women, and children each year,” said the WHO.

Tim Johnson covers China for McClatchy Newspapers. On June 26 he wrote a piece on automobile safety for China’s newly minted cars.

“The Brilliance BS6 sedan was hoping to enter the European market this year as a premiumstyle sedan. But the 40 mph crash test left damage on the automobile that the blogger described as catastrophic

(See photo here:
Some National Cultures More Tolerant of Death?

Most Europeans now won’t be caught, er, dead in one of these vehicles.

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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