Infrastructure provision in developing Asia's giants: A comparative perspective on China, India, and Indonesia

Abdul Abiad, Renard Teipelke

Article ID: 7
Vol 1, Issue 1, 2017

VIEWS - 2168 (Abstract) 1068 (PDF)


This paper provides a comparative perspective on infrastructure provision in developing Asia's three largest countries: China, India, and Indonesia. It discusses their achievements and shortfalls in providing network infrastructure (energy, transport, water, and telecommunications) over the past two decades. It documents how three quite distinct development paths—and very different levels of national saving and investment—were manifested in different trajectories of infrastructure provision. The paper then describes the institutional, economic, and policy factors that enabled or hindered progress in providing infrastructure. Here, contrasting levels of centralization of planning played a key role, as did countries’ differing abilities to mobilize infrastructure-related revenue streams such as user charges and land value capture. The paper then assesses future challenges for the three countries in providing infrastructure in a more integrated and sustainable way, and links these challenges with the global development agenda to which the three countries have committed. The concluding recommendations hope to provide a platform for further policy and research dialogue.


infrastructure; development; planning; policy; Asia; China; India; Indonesia

Full Text:



Ahluwalia MS (2002). “Economic reforms in India since 1991: Has gradualism worked?”. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(3): 67–88. doi: 10.1257/089533002760278721.

Anbumozhi V, Kawai M and Lohani BN (eds.) (2015). Managing the transition to a low-carbon economy: Perspectives, policies, and practices from Asia. Manila: Asian Development Bank, and Tokyo: Asian Development Bank Institute.

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (2014). Cross border air pollution in Asia. Canada: Policy Horizons Canada.

Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Labour Organization (ILB) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB). (2010). Country diagnostics studies—Indonesia: Critical development constraints. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

Asian Development Bank Independent Evaluation Department (2010). Special evaluation study on Asian Development Bank support for decentralization in Indonesia. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

Asian Development Bank (2015). Local currency bonds and infrastructure finance in ASEAN+3. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

_____ (2016a). Access to energy.

_____ (2016b). Asian water development outlook 2016: Strengthening water security in Asia and the Pacific. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

_____ (2017a). Meeting Asia’s infrastructure needs: Publication launch and press conference. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

_____ (2017b) (forthcoming). The green finance catalyzing facility. Leveraging blended finance for green development. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) and International Capital Market Association (ICMA). (2015). Guide to infrastructure financing: Bank loans, debt private placements and public bonds—Smoothing the pathway for effective funding. London: AFME and Zurich: ICMA.

Bellier M and Yue MZ (2003). Private participation in infrastructure in China: Issues and recommendations for the road, water, and power sectors. World Bank Working Paper No. 2. Washington DC: The World Bank.

Castalia Strategic Advisors (2016). People’s Republic of China: Financing public-private partnerships—Business case for the public-private partnership credit enhancement facility. Technical Assistance Consultant’s Report for ADB Project 48377-001. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

Ehlers T (2014). Understanding the challenges for infrastructure finance. Working Papers: 454. Basel: Bank for International Settlements.

Ellis P and Roberts M (2016). Leveraging urbanization in South Asia: Managing spatial transformation for prosperity and livability. Washington DC: World Bank.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Energy Foundation China (EFC), Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and World Resources Institute (WRI) (2014). Climate change and urbanization: Challenges and progress in China. Beijing: Energy Foundation.

European Commission (2012). The multifunctionality of green infrastructure. Science for environment policy. In-depth reports. Brussels: European Commission’s Directorate-General Environment.

Finlayson B (2007). FDI and PPPs experience in the PRC. Presentation given at the Asian Development Bank Institute, 19–22 November 2016, Tokyo.

Gerhaeusser K, Iwasaki Y and Tulasidhar VB (eds.). (2010). Resurging Asian giants: Lessons from the People’s Republic of China and India. Manila: Asian Development Bank. https://www.

Green Finance Task Force (2015). Establishing China’s green financial system: Report of the Green Finance Task Force. Beijing: The People’s Bank of China and Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme. p. 5.

Inderst G (2016). Infrastructure investment, private finance, and institutional investors: Asia from a global perspective. Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) Working Paper Series:555.Tokyo:ADBI.

International Monetary Fund (2015). Investment and capital stock dataset, 1960–2013. Version:October 2015.

International Resource Panel (eds.) (2011). Decoupling natural resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth. Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme.

Iwasaki Y (2010). Lessons from the People’s Republic of China and India. In: Gerhaeusser K, Iwasaki Y, Tulasidhar VB (eds.). Resurging Asian giants. Lessons from the People’s Republic of China and India. Manila: Asian Development Bank. p. 1–37.

Kim J (2016). Handbook on urban infrastructure finance. Canada: New Cities Foundation.

Kumar N (ed.) (2008). International infrastructure development in East Asia–Towards balanced regional development and integration. ERIA Research Project Report 2007-2. Jakarta, Indonesia: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia.

Lall R, Anand R and Rastogi A (2010). Developing physical infrastructure: A comparative perspective on the experience of the People’s Republic of China and India. In: Gerhaeusser K, Infrastructure connectivity and regional economic integration in East Asia: Progress and challenges Iwasaki Y, Tulasidhar VB (eds.). Resurging Asian Giants. Lessons from the People’s Republic of China and India. Manila: Asian Development Bank. p. 57–115.

Langfitt F (2015). China’s white elephants: Ghost cities, lonely airports, desolate factories.Washington DC: National Public Radio. (updated 15 October 2015).

Liu Z (2004). Planning and policy coordination in China’s infrastructure development: A background paper for the ADB–JBIC–World Bank EAP infrastructure flagship study.

McKinsey & Company (2016). Bridging global infrastructure gaps. New York, US: McKinsey & Company.

Moeliono TP (2011). Spatial management in Indonesia: From planning to implementation. Cases from West Java and Bandung—A socio-legal study. PhD thesis. Netherlands: Leiden University.

National Spatial Planning and Regional Policy Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan (NSPRPB-MLIT) (2016a). An overview of spatial policy in Asian and European countries: China.

_____ (2016b). An overview of spatial policy in Asian and European countries: India.

_____(2016c). An overview of spatial policy in Asian and European countries: Indonesia.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2006). Part 2—Country case studies: China. In: Local capital markets for environmental infrastructure: Prospects in China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. Paris: OECD Publishing. p. 67–108.

_____ (2015). Infrastructure financing instruments and incentives. Paris: OECD.

Sandhu SC, Singru RN, Bachmann J, et al. (2016). GrEEEn solutions for livable cities. Manila:Asian Development Bank.

Schwab K (ed.) (2015). The global competitiveness report 2015–2016. Geneva: World Economic Forum.

Sun G (2010). Coal in China: Resources, uses, and advanced coal technologies. Coal Initiative Reports. White Paper Series. Arlington: Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

Tabor SR (2015). Constraints to Indonesia’s economic growth. ADB Papers on Indonesia: No. 10. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

Tsai CM (2015). Chapter 8—Market development and the China dream: State-business relationship and regulatory capacity in China. In: Liou CS and Ding AS (eds.). China dreams: China’s new leadership and future impacts. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Company. p.197–222.

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (2016). Table B.2: Urban population living in slums, 1990–2014. In: Urbanization and development: Emerging futures—World's cities report 2016. Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). p. 203.

Verdouw W, Uzsoki D and Ordonez CD. (2015). Currency risk in project finance. IISD Discussion Paper. Winnipeg, Canada: International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Wakeford J, Kelly C and Mentz Lagrange S (2015). Mitigating risks and vulnerabilities in the energy-food-water nexus in developing countries. Stellenbosch, South Africa: Sustainability Institute.

Walsh JP, Park C and Yu J (2011). Financing infrastructure in India: Macroeconomic lessons and emerging market case studies. IMF Working Paper: 11/181. Washington DC: International Monetary Fund. p. 1–32.

Wang D, Zhang L, Zhang Z, et al. (2011). Urban infrastructure financing in reform-era China. Urban Studies, 48(14): 2975–2998. doi: 10.1177/0042098010392079.

World Bank (2016a). Private participation in infrastructure database.

_____ (2016b). World development indicators: Database.

World Bank and Australian Aid (2016). Indonesia’s rising divide. Washington DC: World Bank.

World Bank and The People’s Republic of China Development Research Center of the State Council (2014). Urban China: Toward efficient, inclusive, and sustainable urbanization. Washington DC: World Bank.

Zhang Q and Crooks R. (2012). Toward an environmentally sustainable future—Country environmental analysis of the People’s Republic of China. Manila: Asian Development Bank.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Abdul Abiad, Renard Teipelke

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.