China-India Brief #93


Published Twice a Month
April 25 – May 16, 2017

Centre on Asia and Globalisation
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Guest Column

China, India Seek Partners in the Global Commons

by P S Suryanarayana

As the days counted down to the inauguration China’s ‘Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation’ (BRF) on 14 May 2017, India fired a technological salvo by launching the so-called ‘South Asia Satellite’ on 5 May. While the BRF is a platform for China’s new Act-Global diplomacy, the South Asia Satellite is emblematic of India’s new Act-Regional diplomacy. China is seeking to act as the prime mover in providing public goods in the 21st century’s global commons of connectivity and infrastructure. In doing so, Beijing does not want to be known as a hegemonic leader. In a parallel development, albeit at a relatively low level of international diplomacy, India is trying to act as the prime mover in providing public goods for South Asia in the domain of outer space. India, too, does not want to be identified as a hegemonic leader.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has staked his country’s global destiny on his grand strategy that has come to be known as the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) which was originally called One Belt One Road. The BRF is being launched as a platform for conceptualising and implementing fully the BRI Initiative of linking Asia (including China) with Europe and beyond by land and sea, for a start. Other modes of connectivity between Asia and Europe and beyond, such as cyber space and the outer space, are also conceivable, given China’s capabilities in these post-modern domains. BRI is a 21st century update of the ancient Silk Route of China’s connectivity with the outside world for trade in goods and services.

The idea of comparing China’s BRF and India’s South Asia Satellite is not to view these two mega-state Asian neighbours, currently in a tense relationship, as inveterate adversaries or even competitors. Surely, both are space-faring and nuclear-armed sunrise powers of the 21st century, although China’s comprehensive national strengths are known to outweigh India’s by a mammoth margin. But the point to note is that neither China nor India can seek to destroy the other and hope to shape a new and sustainable global or regional order. The simple arithmetic of their respective billion-plus population, as well as their scientific and technological capabilities, call for peaceful coexistence along their disputed Himalayan frontier.

From a Purple Patch to a Chilly Phase

China and India had struck a purple patch of what promised to be all-weather bilateral dialogue for about two years until almost mid-2016. However, there are three key factors for the current Sino-Indian chill.

As top Chinese diplomatic sources have told me, one factor is Beijing’s exasperation over the insistence by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Xi Jinping should pave the way for New Delhi’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The relevant issue is not about India’s known credentials for such entry, but Beijing’s refusal to be hustled to fast-track New Delhi’s ‘controversial’ elevation as a key player in shaping the global nuclear order of the 21st century. Surely a collateral aspect is China’s view that Pakistan, Beijing’s all-weather strategic partner which seeks parity with India, should not be left out of the NSG. However, China’s exasperation is the more salient factor.

The second but equally important factor is Beijing’s anger over the recent sojourn in Arunachal Pradesh by the Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. As is well-known, China regards the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as ‘southern Tibet’ and therefore a part of Chinese sovereign territory. And, Beijing views the Dalai Lama, in exile in India since 1959, as a Tibetan separatist who would like to delink Tibet from China. At stake here is the sanctity of the ‘One China’ policy which is at the heart of Chinese foreign policy.

The third but not least factor is all about the ‘One India’ axiom in Modi’s foreign policy. Xi Jinping’s first-priority project under BRI is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) whose northern portion passes through areas that Islamabad controls and India regards as its territory. Modi wants Xi Jinping, who is sensitive about China’s sovereignty, to be mindful of India’s concerns about its sovereignty claims. But China’s counter-argument is that the CPEC route map does not impinge on the India-Pakistan territorial dispute which should be settled by those two countries through bilateral dialogue and consultations, despite the BRI.

Now while Beijing’s argument is logic personified on paper, New Delhi thinks that the Chinese resolve to press ahead with the CPEC project has complicated, more than ever before, the fragile China-India-Pakistan trilateral equation. Several years ago, Beijing had even opposed that the Asian Development Bank’s aid for a project in Arunachal Pradesh, arguing that the issue of sovereignty over that area was indeed an aspect of Sino-Indian disputes. It is tempting to equate China’s ‘insensitivity’ towards India over the CPEC route map with New Delhi’s ‘insensitivity’ towards Beijing over Arunachal Pradesh. However, Arunachal Pradesh figures in a purely China-India bilateral context, whereas the issues over the CPEC route map are trilateral in nature, involving Pakistan as well. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan feels emboldened by China’s firm resolve over the CPEC route map, despite the latest indication that Beijing is willing to change the name of this project to assuage India’s sensitivity in some measure.

Under the Wings of a Satellite

It is in this context (besides several other factors) that Pakistan has clearly shown that it does not want to participate in the South Asia Satellite programme. It is not that the smaller South Asian states see themselves as being made into satellites of India by this “satellite diplomacy”, but what must have irked Islamabad is that the highest-ranking leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka participated in a video conference that marked the launch of the satellite. Striking an exuberant note on that occasion, Modi said: “With this launch we have started a journey to build the most advanced frontier of our [South Asian] partnership. . . . The South Asia Satellite tells us that even the sky is not the limit when it comes to regional [economic] cooperation among like-minded countries”.

The South Asia Satellite was first promised by Modi at a regional summit where Pakistan too was present. By staying clear of this project, Pakistan has shown that it will continue to throw in its lot with China. Some other South Asian countries – Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, for instance – are likely to participate in China’s BRF Summit as well, but they will do so without choosing sides so decisively. This should send out a message to China and India: that there is virtue in striving for win-win outcomes.


P S Suryanarayana is Editor (Current Affairs) at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), an autonomous research institute at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of Smart Diplomacy: Exploring China-India Synergy (2016). He can be contacted at . These are the author’s personal views.


The views expressed in the article(s) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy or the National University of Singapore.


News Reports

Bilateral relations

No shift in Kashmir policy, says China but doubts remain after state media article
Hindustan Times, May 3
The Chinese government on Wednesday said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) does not affect Beijing’s stance on the Kashmir issue and it was up to New Delhi and Islamabad to settle it through dialogue and negotiation. Beijing, however, was willing to make “constructive efforts” to improve relations between the two countries, the foreign ministry said in a statement. “China’s position on the issue of Kashmir is clear and consistent. It is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan, and shall be properly addressed by India and Pakistan through consultation and negotiation,” it said.

China offers to rename OBOR to allay India’s fears
The Hindu, May 8
China is prepared to consider renaming the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) if it would end India’s reservations over its One Belt One Road (Or Belt and Road Initiative) passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), the Chinese Ambassador to India said here, insisting that the OBOR has no connection to “sovereignty disputes.” The offer was made by Luo Zhaohui on Friday during a closed-door interaction at the United Services Institution, a military think-tank in Delhi. Mr. Luo outlined a 4-point solution to “manage differences” between India and China, including a new treaty on cooperation, restarting talks on a free trade agreement (FTA), an early resolution to the border issue and aligning the B&R with India’s “Act East policy.”

China invites India to join One-Belt-One-Road Project
Dawn, May 9
Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui has called on India to join its One-Belt-One-Road project and assured New Delhi that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would not impinge on anyone’s sovereign rights. The Chinese embassy on Monday released the text of Mr Luo’s remarks made to an Indian think-tank on Friday. “Some people in the West misread China and tend to think that the ‘Dragon’ and the ‘Elephant’ are inevitable rivals, and that China would not like to see India developing. This conception is wrong. We hope to see India develop well and we are more than happy to help India develop to achieve common development,” he said in an address at the United Services Institute.

India’s longest bridge to be inaugurated near China border
The Times of India, May 14
India’s longest bridge, capable of withstanding the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank, will be inaugurated in Assam close to the border with China on May 26 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With the inauguration of the 9.15-km-long Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Brahmaputra river, the prime minister will kickstart the celebrations of the NDA government’s three years in office from this eastern-most part of Assam. The bridge is seen as an attempt by India to shore up its defence requirements along the Sino-Indian border particularly in the Northeast besides providing easy access to the people of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam with air and rail connectivity.

India to skip One Belt One Road meet in bid to keep ‘PoK road’ open
The Times of India, May 14
Resolute in its opposition to China’s ‘One Belt One Road’, India will be a significant absentee at the OBOR conference which opens in Beijing on Sunday. India will stand out with its resolute opposition to China’s OBOR by being the significant absentee at the now famous Belt & Road forum which opens in Beijing on Sunday. Despite the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s public assertion and virtual threats by its diplomats to “isolate” India, the Modi government has refused to budge, with only a handful of scholars attending the forum.


News Reports

China and India in the Regions

China eagerly awaits new carrier launch
Global Times, April 25
Anticipation for the launch of China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is growing, with many military enthusiasts flocking to Dalian, Liaoning Province, where the vessel is being built, in hopes of witnessing the historic moment. On Tuesday, the deck of the aircraft carrier was decorated with hundreds of red flags, and the dry dock where the carrier has been under construction is flooded with water, suggesting that the giant vessel is ready for its big day. The Type 001A looks like the Liaoning, a Type 001, the first Chinese aircraft carrier to be commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army navy in 2012. It has a ski jump-style launch ramp on its flight deck where aircraft are launched and recovered. On the starboard side of the deck is the island, where air-traffic control and the bridge are located. The radar system on the island is higher than on the Liaoning, which means its radar detection range might be wider.

China urges withdrawal of U.S. THAAD missile defence system in South Korea
Reuters, April 26
China said on Wednesday it had expressed serious concern to Washington and Seoul after the U.S. military started moving parts of its controversial THAAD anti-missile defence system to a deployment site in South Korea. Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China urged the U.S. and South Korea to withdraw the system. Seoul and Washington say the sole purpose of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is to defend against North Korean missiles, but China is concerned the system’s powerful radar can penetrate its territory and undermine its security and has repeatedly expressed opposition to it.

China ready to play a greater role in resolving conflicts in South and Southeast Asia
Global Times, May 1
China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, but that doesn’t mean Beijing can turn a deaf ear to the demands of Chinese enterprises in protecting their overseas investments. Given the massive investment that China has made in countries along the One Belt, One Road, China now has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan. By playing the role of a mediator between Myanmar and Bangladesh, China can gather experience, which could perhaps serve as a prelude to future efforts by China to engage in regional affairs in South Asia and Southeast Asia.

ASEAN wants stronger ties with China
The Hindu, May 1
Steering clear of blaming China for the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has focussed on a regional trade pact and shoring up economies of some of the lesser developed countries in the grouping. A Chairman’s statement issued at the end of the Manila summit on Sunday took note of the improving cooperation between ASEAN and China. It welcomed the progress to complete a framework of the code of conduct in the South China Sea by mid-2017. The code is a non-binding document that urges self-restraint and resolution of disputes through direct negotiations

India aces space diplomacy test with Modi’s satellite gift to South Asia
The Economic Times, May 5
India made its biggest space diplomacy push today when the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09), carrying the GSAT-9 or the “South Asia” satellite, was launched successfully at 4.57 p.m. from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The countdown to the launch of the satellite, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed as a priceless gift to South Asia, was smooth. The 28-hour countdown had begun at 12.57 p.m. on Thursday. The GSAT-9 has been launched with an objective to provide different communication applications in Ku-band with coverage over South Asian countries, the ISRO said.

Japan, India look to strengthen defense ties ahead of trilateral naval exercises
The Japan Times, May 9
Japan and India have affirmed plans to strengthen their military cooperation amid rising tension in Asia. Indian defense chief Arun Jaitley told Defense Minister Tomomi Inada in Tokyo on Monday that his country hopes to pursue a strategic partnership with Japan for regional peace and stability. His visit comes at a time of rising tension in the region, including territorial rows in the South China Sea and nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. Jaitley welcomed a planned trilateral naval exercise among the U.S., India and Japan in July as a way of strengthening cooperation in the region.


News Reports

Trade and Economy

China’s assistance for Pakistan can help deliver mutual benefits in the future
Global Times, April 27
Loans offered by Chinese banks for Pakistan to fend off a currency crisis make a strong case for China’s role as a far-sighted planner while it pushes ahead with the Belt and Road initiative. China has twice come to Pakistan’s aid since last year, providing loans adding up to more than $1 billion to help the South Asian nation, whose stocks of foreign currency have been “depleted in recent months by rising imports and falls in exports and remittances from Pakistanis abroad,” the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. The report also expressed doubts about the relationship between the two countries, saying that “despite its expected benefits, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor infrastructure project is set to further deplete the foreign currency stocks, needed to pay contractors and suppliers,” it said.

Stronger India-China partnership key for global growth: IMF
The Economic Times, April 28
A strong partnership between India and China, which are currently responsible for half of the global growth, is important for the world, the IMF has said. “Global cooperation and pursuing the right policies can help achieve strong, sustained, balanced, and inclusive growth,” Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, told PTI in an interview.  “India and China are currently responsible for half of the global growth, so a strong economic partnership between these two large economies is very important – for their people and for the world,” he said.

India should focus on regional strength, not conspiracy theories about China
Global Times, May 3
There’s nothing good about being overly nervous, a motto highly recommended for India, which seems to have gone too far in its conspiracy theorizing. While India has always come across as being skeptical about China, an article in India’s Economic Times on Tuesday went to the extreme of smearing China as a snake in the grass that “may put South Asia on the road to a debt trap.” China’s push for implementing the “One Belt and One Road” initiative, which aims to facilitate joint prosperity across the countries and regions along the route, was presented by the article as offering benefits only to China while setting a trap for countries in South Asia. Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in particular, were billed as two obtuse nations that have fallen into a huge debt trap as they were purportedly burdened with heavy loans from Chinese lenders asking for high interest rates.

Lower gold prices bolster gold demand; premiums rise in India, China
Reuters, May 5
Gold demand in Asia rose this week, helped by a correction in prices, but traders said some buyers have held back from purchases while they wait for bullion prices to drop further. Analysts said gold buyers were expecting prices to dip in the upcoming days, banking on the possibility of the U.S. Federal Reserve hiking interest rates in June. Higher rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion. Futures traders are pricing in a 74 percent chance of a June hike. Gold prices in India have been at a premium over the last couple of weeks due to stronger demand for the annual Hindu and Jain holy festival of Akshaya Tritiya and the recent dip in global rates have further boosted the appetite.

India urged to reconsider on B&R
Global Times, May 8
As Beijing prepares to host leaders and representatives from dozens of countries next week for a summit on the Belt and Road initiative, India, the South Asian giant, is noticeably missing from the list of guests. That’s not because India was not invited, but because it has been reluctant to join the initiative. By skipping the summit and maintaining its wary stance on the initiative – which has drawn interest from more than 60 countries and is expected to reshape economic and trade relations in the Eurasian region – India could miss a slew of benefits for its domestic economic development as well as an opportunity to take part in the reshaping process, Chinese officials and experts said, adding that the door is still open for India. The Belt and Road initiative could help India address several pressing economic issues, including imbalanced trade with China and the need to find new markets for its growing manufacturing sector throughout South Asia and beyond, according to Wang Jun, an expert at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.


News Reports

Energy and Environment

China, India become climate leaders as West falters
Salon, April 26
Less than two years after world leaders signed off on a historic United Nations climate treaty in Paris in late 2015, and following three years of record-setting heat worldwide, climate policies are advancing in developing countries but stalling or regressing in richer ones. In the Western hemisphere, where centuries of polluting fossil fuel use have created comfortable lifestyles, the fight against warming has faltered largely due to the rise of far-right political groups and nationalist movements. As numerous rich countries have foundered, India and China have emerged as global leaders in tackling global warming. Nowhere is backtracking more apparent than in the U.S., where President Trump is moving swiftly to dismantle environmental protections and reverse President Obama’s push for domestic and global solutions to global warming.

Over the barrel: Oil more slippery
The Indian Express, May 1
Every forecast shows oil demand is increasing, albeit slowly. The US Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency peg their forecasts on rising demand from Indian and Chinese consumers looking to upgrade from cycles to motorised two-wheelers. The International Energy Agency is predicting that global oil consumption, currently around 98 mbd, will cross the symbolic 100 mbd by 2019. Juxtapose this prediction with the fact that OPEC has limited surplus production capacity — it was only 1.22 mbd in 2016 — and that there has been a choke on new exploration expenditure over the past two years, and throw this combination into the geopolitical cauldron described above; it becomes easier to understand why the tea leaves of the current oil market are so difficult to interpret today.

As China and India move away from coal, hose power plans are greener?
Scroll, May 13
Currently, India has about 32 gigawatts of wind power and 12 gigawatts of solar power within a total generation mix of 320 gigawatts. Renewables (excluding large-scale hydropower) account for about 17% of its total power output. In comparison, China has 149 gigawatts of wind and 77 gigawatts of solar – far ahead of its neighbour, although with less renewables as a proportion of installed capacity because its energy mix, at 1,646 gigawatts, is more than five times greater than India’s.
India’s draft National Electricity Plan affirms a strategy of rapid renewables expansion. It aims to have 175 gigawatts of renewable capacity installed by 2022, meaning an additional 100 gigawatts of solar power and 60 gigawatts of wind power.



China’s carrier should worry India
Bangkok Post, April 27
The launch of China’s second aircraft carrier this week is an important and depressing moment for India. The “Type 001A” — likely to be named the Shandong — will give China an edge for the first time in the carrier race with its Asian rival, a literal two-to-one advantage. After decommissioning the INS Viraat earlier this year, the Indian navy is down to a single carrier, INS Vikramaditya. Worse, the Shandong has been built at China’s own giant shipyard at Dalian; Vikramaditya is merely a re-purposed 1980s-era Russian carrier formerly known as the Admiral Gorshkov.

Sri Lanka stands to lose India’s shipping money by becoming a base for China
Hindustan Times, April 29
India has reaffirmed its commitment to the development of Trincomalee port in Sri Lanka during Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent State visit. These plans pale in comparison to the billion dollar investment that China has made to the port of Hambantota. But that may be for the better. The last Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapaksa placed his country into a Beijing debt trap, borrowing $8 billion at absurdly high rates of interest, to build the port. Colombo today struggles to pay this off, largely by being forced to borrow money from more user-friendly sources. Sri Lankans across the political spectrum envision a future in which they become a logistical hub for the Indian Ocean. This has been encouraged by Sri Lanka’s lucrative role as the major transshipment point for Indian cargo. About a quarter of India’s containerised ocean cargo goes through Sri Lanka. The last Sri Lankan government had an additional vision of becoming a base for Chinese manufacturing and re-exporting as well.

Regional connectivity projects can support India’s ambitions
Global Times, May 7
India’s Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has called for an increased defense budget and insists the country should look for new allies to deal with its neighbors along the northern and western borders, according to the Press Trust of India. Apparently, Rawat is referring to China and Pakistan. New Delhi is prepared for “a two-front war” involving Beijing and Islamabad simultaneously, Rawat told channel NewsX early this year. India is viewing Beijing and Islamabad as potential threats and is suspicious of Beijing’s One Belt and One Road initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Earlier, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar accused the CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, of violating India’s sovereignty.

Making sense of the recent flurry of Chinese offers on Kashmir
Scroll, May 8
The Chinese offer to rename the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is the latest manifestation of the new style of Chinese diplomacy. From the muscular assertion in the South China Sea, the waters of the Senkaku (Diayou) islands, and frozen wastes of Aksai Chin, Beijing seems to be taking a step back and learning to say “please”. This was, in an intriguing way, also the message contained in a recent article in the party-owned Global Times suggesting that, maybe, China could mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. For decades now, the Chinese position has been quite straight-forward, and, even from the Indian position, quite neutral. It has spoken of the need for the two countries to resolve the dispute through bilateral dialogue, even while refraining from actually suggesting a solution or a mediation.

India has its reasons to boycott China’s Belt Road Initiative
Hindustan Times, May 15
The only major country to openly boycott the Belt Road Forum, India has emerged as the most vocal opponent of China’s continent-spanning infrastructure project. The reasons for New Delhi’s skepticism about the Belt-Road Initiative (BRI)  may not seem evident. They become clear, however, when seen through the prism of geopolitics. India’s position regarding what was originally called the One Belt, One Road has evolved over time — and become increasingly hostile as the nature of China’s plans in the subcontinent and Indian Ocean area become clear. New Delhi’s began with pointing out that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project of the BRI, would run through territory that it claimed.

India needs to look beyond rifts with China
Global Times, May 16
The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation concluded successfully yesterday with fruitful results. As so many large delegations participated, including from the US, Japan and South Korea, the international community has shown a very positive response to the infrastructure-building initiative. However, India sent no official representatives. The country’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said Saturday that India cannot accept a project that violates its sovereignty and territorial integrity. India appears to be the only country that has expressed disapproval of the initiative in recent days. New Delhi is primarily against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project along the Belt and Road (B&R) which goes through Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over Kashmir, which is under the control of both sides.


Books and Journals

Antipiracy and Unusual Coalitions in the Indian Ocean Region: China’s Changing role and Confidence Building with India
Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 2017
Piracy and threats from non-state actors in the Gulf of Aden have triggered states to cooperate in securing waterways and the sea lines of communication, a development that is fundamentally transforming the region’s maritime security environment. As a result, not only has this region’s strategic importance been reaffirmed, but it has also gained tremendous importance through the presence of several actors, especially China and India. Since 2008, these two countries have been involved in larger global actions against piracy, which has led to increasing contact between their navies and more exposure of their capabilities. Will the broader Indian Ocean region emerge as an area of cooperation or competition between China and India? Drawing on interviews carried out with Chinese and European experts from 2012 to 2015, this article, by Olivia Gippner, explores the reasons for and instruments of cooperation in antipiracy and the degree to which China uses antipiracy efforts as confidence-building measures.

Trends of Natural Resource Footprints in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) Countries
Journal of Cleaner Production, January 2017
The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have experienced dramatic economic expansions during the last couple of decades. However, such a rapid development induced a large consumption of natural resources, leading to serious environmental issues. Under such a circumstance, this study, by Rui Wu, Yong Geng and Wenjing Liu, calculates the resource footprints of biomass, fossil fuel, minerals and water in BRIC countries for the years of 1995 and 2008 by employing a global, multi-regional input–output model based on the World Input–Output Database (WIOD) and extended by material extraction data. Trends in BRIC’s resource footprints and consumption-based resource productivity were presented and compared. The results show that about one third of global resources were extracted to satisfy the consumption of BRIC countries, of which China had the highest footprint. During 1995–2008, per capita resource footprints in BRIC countries had increased faster than the world average, especially for China. However, BRIC’s overall per capita footprint was still below the world average, with India as one of the lowest in the world. Most components of resource footprints in BRIC countries were lower than their domestic resource extractions, indicating that the dramatic economic growth was mainly based on domestic resource extractions. China’s overall resource footprint increased faster than its domestic extraction (DE), while Brazil’s footprint growth rate can catch up with its DE. This study also reveals that Russia’s resource productivity was the highest among all the BRIC countries, followed by Brazil. A large gap on resource productivity existed among the BRIC countries, especially for fossil fuels and minerals. Policy implications from this study suggest that the BRIC countries should have more rational urban plans, gradually substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels, develop circular economy and initiate various capacity building projects.

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