Well I looked into an accident database, to see just how bad the numbers are for Chinese carriers. And it doesn't look too good. Here are the numbers for accidents beginning in the '90s to 2002.
China Southern Airlines 2 accidents: 176 dead
China Southwest Airlines 3 accidents: 216 dead
China Northwest Airlines 2 accidents: 215 dead
China Northern Airlines 2 accidents: 114 dead
China Eastern Airlines 3 accidents: 38 dead
Xiamen Airlines 1 accident: 82 dead
And last but not least,
China Airlines (since '91) 6 accidents: 693 dead
In last decade or so, Chinese carriers have suffered:
19 accidents killing a total of 1,534 passengers.
Yet, the number of aircraft and passenger miles flown by Chinese carriers is far less than the numbers for the US, for example. So the percentile rate of accidents is completely unacceptable by western standards.
So yes, there is a significant problem with Chinese carriers. But I fear the numbers for the South American and African carriers may not be that much better.
So the problem is not with the Chinese per se, but with lesser-developed countries in second and third-world nations using a system that is much newer to them. In the west, we had high accident rates too, 50 years ago. In the interim, the west has refined the systems, procedures, and protocols to a fine art, such that accidents rates are extremely low.
The Chinese are at the place now where the west was 50 years ago. In time they will improve as did the west. Unfortunately, 50 years ago the planes were smaller and slower. Third-world carriers don't have that luxury of learning on a DC-3 with 15 passengers. Kinetic energies were a lot less in that flight environment of yesteryear. Today, the planes are big, take-off and landing speeds are fast, and hundreds can be packed it. One blown landing, one grievous error in judgment, and 200 can be killed in a shot. And that is what is happening now to the Chinese.
An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised