Compare US – China military strength

Compare US - China military strength 0

(Dan Tri) – China is trying to promote its plan to build its army into a modern fighting force by 2027 in the context of tensions with the US still escalating.

A Chinese warship rehearses live fire in the East China Sea (Photo: SCMP).

Defense spending

According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States is by far the world’s largest military spender, with an estimated budget of about $778 billion last year, accounting for 39% of total military spending.

China, although ranked second, is far behind the US, with an estimated spending of 252 billion USD.

However, US analysts warn that Washington must be `wary` of Beijing on military spending, after China announced a 6.8% increase in its defense budget this year, after more than two decades of increases.

Total manpower

Compare US - China military strength

The US Navy participates in the first US-ASEAN exercise in the Gulf of Thailand in 2019 (Photo: US Navy).

China is by far the country with the largest military in the world, with 2 million active military personnel in 2019, according to the latest defense white paper.

Meanwhile, according to the Pentagon’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year, the US has about 1.35 million active military personnel and 800,000 reserve troops.

However, in modern warfare, technology and military equipment play a more important role than the number of soldiers.

In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to cut 300,000 troops, while US President Joe Biden’s budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year also includes a reduction of about 5,400 troops.

Ground forces

Compare US - China military strength

Military parade in Beijing, China in 2019 (Photo: AP).

According to the Pentagon’s 2020 China Military Power Report, the Chinese army’s ground force is considered the largest in the world with 915,000 active troops, nearly double the US’s 486,000 troops,

However, the Pentagon report said that the Chinese army’s ground forces are still using outdated equipment and cannot effectively use modern weapons if not equipped or trained.

China is beginning to deploy lighter and more powerful autonomous weapons to its ground forces, shifting much of the operational burden to digital technology.

According to Forbes magazine, the US, with 6,333 tanks, is the country with the second largest number of armored vehicles in the world after Russia, while China ranks third with 5,800 tanks.

Air force

Compare US - China military strength

Model of China’s H-20 strategic bomber (Photo: Weibo).

According to the 2021 World Air Force Report published by Flight Global, the US maintains its advantage with more than 13,000 military aircraft, 5,163 of which are operated by the US Air Force.

Meanwhile, according to the 2020 China Military Power report, the Chinese air force is the third largest force in the world with more than 2,500 aircraft, including about 2,000 combat aircraft.

China’s most advanced stealth fighter today is the independently developed J-20 series.

The two countries are also researching the production of new bombers, in which China is developing the Xian H-20 strategic bomber.


Compare US - China military strength

US aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (Photo: Getty).

According to a report by the US Congress, China currently has the largest navy in the world, with about 360 ships of all types, compared to the US fleet of 297 ships.

China’s numerical advantage comes from its possession of smaller vessels, such as coastal patrol vessels.

For example, the US has 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, which can travel longer distances than conventionally powered aircraft carriers.

By comparison, China has only two aircraft carriers – Liaoning and Shandong.

However, China has an ambitious plan to balance naval power with the US in the Pacific region.

Nuclear warhead

Compare US - China military strength

A US missile test (Photo: US Navy).

The United States currently owns the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal after Russia, followed by France in third place and China in fourth place, according to rankings by the World Civil Review site in the US.

China does not disclose how many nuclear warheads it has, but the most recent report from the US Department of Defense on the Chinese military said that China’s warhead stockpile is `estimated at about 200 warheads.`

A source close to the Chinese military told SCMP in January that China’s stockpile of nuclear warheads has increased to 1,000 in recent years, but there are less than 100 warheads ready for operation.

All of the above estimates are dwarfed by the US’s total of 5,800 nuclear warheads, of which 3,000 are ready to be deployed and about 1,400 are waiting.

China still has a chance to narrow the gap, after the US and Russia agreed to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) until 2026. This treaty requires Washington and Moscow not to over-deploy


China’s Dong Phong 26 missile has an attack range of Guam (Photo: Xinhua News Agency).

Although the United States has more nuclear warheads, China still has a monopoly in one area: ground-based ballistic missiles that can carry out both nuclear and conventional attacks.

The United States is prohibited from deploying land-based cruise missiles and medium-range ballistic missiles under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the Soviet Union.

Two weeks after withdrawing from the treaty, the US tested a ground-launched version of a sea-launched cruise missile.

China’s only IRBM is the Dong Phong 26, dubbed the `Guam killer` because it is believed to be capable of conducting air strikes against an important US Air Force base on Guam island, according to the Center.

According to CSIS, the number of IRBM launchers in China’s arsenal increased from zero in 2015 to 72 in 2020.

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