China Navy 01

China’s Military Power

Dan Middlemiss, 04 September 2020.

The US Department of Defense has released its annual report to Congress on the military power of the People’s Republic of China.[1]

Some highlights from the Preface:

  • The PRC’s strategy includes advancing a comprehensive military modernization program that aims to “basically” complete military modernization by 2035 and transform the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into a “world-class” military by the end of 2049.
  • The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen the PRC’s ability to counter an intervention by an adversary in the Indo-Pacific region and project power globally.
  • Shipbuilding: The PRC has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants. In comparison, the US Navy’s battle force is approximately 293 ships as of early 2020. China is the top ship-producing state in the world by tonnage and is increasing its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes.
  • The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) – the largest navy in the world – is an increasingly modern and flexible force that has focused on replacing previous generations of platforms with limited capabilities in favour of larger, modern multi-role combatants. As of 2019, the PLAN is largely composed of modern multi-role platforms featuring advanced anti-ship, anti-air and anti-submarine weapons and sensors.
  • Naval Shipbuilding and Modernization: The PLAN remains engaged in a robust shipbuilding and modernization program that includes submarines, surface combatants, amphibious warfare ships, aircraft carriers and auxiliary ships as well as developing and fielding advanced weapons, sensors, and command and control capabilities.


  1. United States, Department of Defense, “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020 Annual Report to Congress.” Accessed at:

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