India vs China : Who will win?

Both India and China have been arch enemies ever since a bitter war between them in 1962. Both of them have been involved in many border skirmishes from then.

We cannot predict when another war may break out between the world’s largest democracy and world’s largest communist nation.

India vs China
Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh. (Picture Courtesy:

Both India and China are one of the largest economies in the world. Both of them are also the most populated countries in the world.

As of military power, China is ranked third and India is ranked fourth. Both these countries have their own powers and weaknesses. So, experts believe that a war between India and China would be really harsh and long.

Now, let’s compare both of them basing on their military strength! India vs China. Who will win?

Chinese Military

Since China has a huge economy, it has huge a defence budget. Present defence budget of China is $177.6 Billion that is the second largest after the United States. Chinese armed Forces are known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). PLA has five branches. They are:

  • Ground Forces
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Rocket Force
  • Strategic Support Force

There are a total of 2,035,000 personnel active in the PLA. Other than that, PLA also has 510,000 reserve personnel. In this way, China is a little ahead of India in terms of manpower. But, India has a great potential to summon more numbers of reserve personnel that can exceed the power of China.

India vs China, Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA)
PLA Ground Forces. (Picture Courtesy:

In terms of equipment, China again has a majority. But, there is a loophole which India can use to counter China. Even though China has a majority in equipment, many of the equipment are outdated. India has all its equipment either upgraded or recently bought with advanced technology.

PLA Ground Forces:

China’s ground forces have 7,950 main-battle tanks and 1200 light tanks, Out of which, more than 30% are outdated models. They have 1490 Infantry fighting vehicles and 3298 armoured personnel carriers.

They have 6246 towed artillery units, 1710 self-propelled artillery units and 1770 rocket artillery systems. As for air- defence, China has 1531 SAM (Surface to Air Missiles) systems.

PLA Navy:

As of naval equipment, China has a huge navy as compared to India. China has 2 active aircraft carriers and 1 carrier in construction, 2 landing helicopter docks, 8 amphibious transport docks, 32 landing ship tanks, 46 destroyers, 49 frigates, 71 corvettes, 109 missile boats, 79 submarines and other auxiliary ships.

PLA Navy, India vs China
PLA Navy during a parade ceremony. (Picture Courtesy:

China’s submarines are not very capable because many of them are outdated and are not very properly maintained. But, this won’t give any advantage to China because has very less access to India through seas.

PLA Air Force

As of air power, China’s PLA Air Force is as powerful as Indian Air Force. China’s Air Force is larger than India but has less advanced fighters than India except for the su-35, Chengdu J17and Chengdu J20 5th generation stealth fighter jet which are again less in number.

PLA Air Force, India vs China
Chinese Chengdu J20 Stealth Fighter. (Picture Courtesy:

China has a total of more than 5200 aircraft out of which only 2700+ are fighter aircraft.

PLA Rocket Force

PLA Rocket force is just a small force which deals with deals with country’s missile arsenal. Whether it is nuclear or thermo-nuclear or it is a conventional warhead. There are 100,000 active personnel serving in the PLA Rocket Force.

China’s rocket arsenal includes 280 nuclear and thermo-nuclear warheads, 1833 conventional ballistic missiles and 350 cruise missiles in its arsenal.

Note: Not much info is available about PLA Strategic Force.

Indian Military:

India’s economy also supports it to have a huge defence budget. Indian Defence budget is $67 billion. Indian Armed Forces are divided into three branches. They are:

  • Indian Army
  • Indian Air Force
  • Indian Navy

Indian has a total of 1,445,000 active military personnel and a huge reserve force of 2,100,000 personnel. All together, India has a huge advantage of manpower. China has a majority in active personnel, but in war, each country summons its reserve force. So, India’s reserves are 4 times the reserve force China has. All together, India would have 3,600,000 troops where as China would have only 2,545,000 troops. India also has 87,000 paramilitary forces.

Indian Army, India vs China
Indian Army Para SF marching. (Picture Courtesy:

Now, let’s take a look at India’s arsenal:

Indian Army:

Indian Army has an approx 5,000 tanks all upgraded and advanced. This gives India an advantage over China because almost 30% of China’s armored Vehicles are outdated models. Indian Army has 6,800 armored fighting vehicles and almost 7000-8000 artillery pieces (Portable artillery included). India has 1000-1500 SAM (Surface to Air Missiles) systems.

Indian Navy:

Indian Navy is world’s fourth strongest navy and China’s navy is world’s third strongest navy. China’s navy is stronger than India but it would not give China any advantage since China has so much in South-China Sea to deal with. Even though China has no such obstacles, India has more control over the Indian Ocean.

Indian Navy, India vs China
Indian Navy during a ceremonial parade. (Picture Courtesy:

 Indian Navy has a total 300-350 ships of which 1 Aircraft Carrier is operational and 2 aircraft carriers in construction, one amphibious transport dock, eight landing ship tanks, seventeen submarines (including nuclear powered and ballistic missile submarines), 11 destroyers, 14 frigates, 22 corvettes, 4 fleet tankers, 2 mine-countermeasure ships and many other auxiliary ships.

Indian Air Force:

Indian Air Force is the strongest air force in the world after US, Russia and China. Both India and China’s air forces are almost equal, but China is at third rank because of more number of aircrafts. China has more number of fighter aircrafts.

Indian Air Force ceremonial march on air force day. (Picture courtesy:

 So, it can be challenging for India to counter China. China has more number of old fighter such as J7s, J10s and soviet made MiG 21s.  India has approx 2200 airplanes out of which 1000 are fighter jets.

IAF Dassault Rafale. Picture Courtesy:

War Scenario:

India and China both have strong militaries. Even though China is slightly ahead in manpower and equipment than India, China has huge geographical disadvantages. Some experts fear that these tensions between the world’s largest democracy and world’s  largest communist country can lead to a war.

Experts are saying that if at all a War breaks out between India and China, India will get strong international support.But there are very less chances of a war because of the crumbling economies during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

If a war breaks out between these two nations, India would may have an upper hand because of the following reasons:

  • India have many airbases as compared to China near the Himalayas. This would give India a tactical advantage. Chinese military would take at least 1 month to deploy more of its fighter planes. But, it would be too late.
  • India also have a tactical advantage in terms of troops and ground weapons such as tanks and artillery that are near Indo-China border. This is because China has almost no army bases in the outer Tibetian Region. It would again take the communist nation at least a month time to mobilise its artillery and tank units in the region.
  • It would be equally tough for both countrys’ air forces to maintain air superiority. That is because both countries have equally strong air forces. Even though China has more number of fighters, most of them are oudated models.
  • The turning point in the war can be the entry of US with the consent of India which is likely because China has dispute also with the US. 
  • The entry of US into the war would be advantageous in the war to India. When China would mobilise large amount of troops along the Indian Border, its east coast would be completely prone to attack by the US. This would Force China to split its army and fight the two armies advancing through two different directions.
  • If India does not get any major victories in the front, another way in which it can kick China out of the war is by affecting China’s economy.
  • China’s economy mainly depends on its trade through the Indian Ocean which is completely under the control of India. Indian Navy can create a naval blockade which would affect China’s economy drastically.

It is possible that Japan may also accompain India during the war. So, taking in the current global situation, China and India’s international relations, China and India’s geography and allies, India has an upper hand over China.

[India and China are both nuclear powered nations but it is expected that both of them would avoid the use of nuclear weapons. Even if they used nuclear weapons, both countries have anti-ballistic missile technology.]

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