Economists are closely watching the environmental policies of both rising powers, because they represent test cases of the controversial environmental Kuznets curve (PDF), which hypothesizes that a country's pollution levels rise, level off, then fall as per-capita income increases. Early proponents of the theory in the 1990s rejected the prevailing belief that economic development inevitably results in increased pollution. Rather, they argued that economic development is prerequisite for responsible environmental stewardship. In the coming years, we'll find out whether the race for Asian economic supremacy is a race to the bottom or to the top for the environment.
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