The US Department of Defense’s annual report to Congress on Chinese military power stated: “The PRC [People’s Republic of China] has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants,”
This is in comparison with the US Navy’s battle force of approximately 293 ships.
In addition, the report states that China plans to double its stockpile of nuclear warheads in the next decade, including those designed to be carried atop ballistic missiles that can reach the United States.
The Pentagon report stated that modernization and expansion of China’s nuclear forces is part of a broader effort by Beijing to develop a more assertive position on the world stage and to match or surpass America by 2049 as the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific region.
The report noted that the number of warheads on China’s land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of threatening the US is expected to grow to roughly 200 in the next five years. China’s ICBM arsenal consists of 100 missiles with various ranges, the report said.
Separately this week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper suggested like-minded nations in the Pacific ― India, Australia and Japan ― could form a NATO-like alliance, whose apparent aim would be to deter China.
According to the report, China has increased its defense budget, and surpassed the US with ground-launched missiles in larger numbers with greater ranges than the US, and in shipbuilding.
China’s global ambitions have, the report stated, likely led it to consider Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola and Tajikistan as potential locations for PLA military logistics facilities.
“I don’t think they’ve reached final conclusions on any of those yet,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Chad Sbragia said.
“But their aspirations are not small, and they’re not limited to a single geographic location. This is global in scale.”