Bilateral ties between the United States and China are at an all time low these days. U.S.A helped China during the Second World War in the fight against the Japanese. This resulted in a very warm relationship between U.S and Republic of China (Now Taiwan).
But, when the People’s Liberation Army under Mao Zedong as its leader took control of China after a civil war in 1950 and set up a communist regime, everything changed. Since the Cold War was at its peak, relations between U.S and ‘communist’ China soured. China’s getting well along with the Soviet Union also worsened the relations between the countries.
Currently, U.S is the country worst hit by the Chinese virus (COVID-19). China is claiming the whole of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory.A trade war is raging between the two world powers. U.S claims that several cyber attacks have been carried out in the country by the Chinese cyber attackers. Both the powers are competing to influence this modern world. They are in a race to make their military forces superior. Currently, U.S has the upper hand. It stands as the world super-power. But, China is also trying to rapidly modernize its military.
What if this trade war leads to an all out military confrontation between the two nations?
Well, wouldn’t that be a disaster. Let’s compare both the nations’ military power. We are not including both the nations’ nuclear capabilities and allies.
Since China has a huge economy, it has huge a defence budget. Present defence budget of China is $205 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
- 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.
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. But, many of the equipment are outdated. India has all its equipment either upgraded or recently bought with advanced technology.
PLA Ground Forces:
China has 7,950 main-battle tanks and 1200 light tanks. Out of these, more than 30% are outdated models.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.
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.
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.
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.
United States being the world’s most richest country has the largest defence budget in the world. The massive budget of $740.5 Billions is more than 3 times the budget of the Chinese military. The U.S Armed Forces has six service branches:
- United States Army
- United States Navy
- United States Air Forces
- United States Marine Corps
- United States Coast Guard
- United States Space Force.
U.S has a total of 1,385,727 active military personnel and reserve force of 849,450 personnel. This is a little less compared to the Chinese manpower. But, U.S soldiers have an edge over Chinese soldiers since they are equipped with much superior combat gear and weapon systems.
Let’s take a look at U.S’s arsenal:
United States Army:
There are a total of 10,18,000 personnel serving in the U.S Army out of which 4,76,000 are regular army personnel, 3,43,000 are Army National Guard personnel and 2,00,000 are reserved personnel.
U.S army has 2400 tanks, 3700 IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles), 1339 towed artillery units, 998 self-propelled artillery unit, 1366 Multiple Launch Rocket Vehicles and 9300 Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs).
United States Navy:
The U.S Navy is also the operator of the largest aircraft carrier fleet with 11 active aircraft carriers and 2 in construction. The U.S Navy is also the only navy along with the Russian Navy which is operating cruisers (Largest multi-purpose warships after an aircraft carrier).
The U.S Navy is the only navy along with French Navy which is operating nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. U.S Navy is operating more than 70 Nuclear submarines out of the 290 naval vessels.
United States Air Force:
U.S Air Force is the largest and the strongest air force in the world. Some experts claim that a direct engagement between both the air forces would prove catastrophic for the Chinese side.
It has 321,444 active personnel, 141,880 civilians, 69,200 reserve personnel, 105,700 air national guard and maintains a massive amount of 5047 manned aircraft (unmanned aircraft excluded).
When it comes to aircraft, USAF has more than 14,000 aircraft including fighters, bombers, attack aircraft, transport aircraft, helicopters, airborne warning units, etc. This is a huge number compared to China’s total of 3000+ aircraft out of which, almost 40% are old aircraft with reverse engineered tech.
United States Marine Corps:
The U.S Marine Corps is the maritime land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is the expeditionary and amphibious warfare branch of the U.S Armed Forces. It has 180,958 active reserve personnel and 38,500 reserve personnel. There are 1,305 aircraft under operating under the U.S Marine Corps. This force operates jointly with the other services which makes it lethally capable.
United States Coast Guard:
U.S Coast Guard is the coastal defence force which is one of the service branches of the U.S Armed Forces. It consists of 40,992 active duty personnel, 7000 reserve personnel, 8577 civilian workers and 31,000 auxiliary personnel. It has 245 coastal and ocean-going patrol vessels, tenders, tugs, icebreakers. This fleet also includes 1650 smaller boats. It also has 201 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters operating under it. Well, that is enough to protect U.S Coast lines from civilian armed intruders.
United States Space Force:
Not much information is available about the U.S Space Force. But, this small force consists of 2501 guardians, 13,590 assigned airmen and 77 spacecraft. It comes under the Department of Air Force. Its main functions are missile early detection, anti-satellite operations, etc..
If we see the size and reliability, U.S has a upper hand. U.S also has greater reach to Chinese mainland since it has many overseas bases. As of ballistic missiles, U.S missiles cover the whole of China. China has a little advantage in manpower. But, U.S again has an awesome geography which makes it almost unconquerable. U.S also has a tested ballistic Missile Defence System which makes it less vulnerable to Chinese missile attacks.