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Defense Department: China Now Has the Largest Navy in the World

China World's Largest Navy
Image: Creative Commons.

The U.S. Department of Defense this week released a report about the military capabilities of China. Clearly, the report has been making a lot of headlines, about everything from China’s nuclear capabilities and advances in AI.

The report, issued to Congress Monday and also released to the public, is titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.”

One section of the Pentagon report details the size of China’s Navy, which it describes as the largest in the world.

“The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has numerically the largest navy in the world with an overall battle force of approximately 355 ships and submarines, including approximately more than 145 major surface combatants,” the Defense Department report said. “As of 2020, the PLAN is largely composed of modern multi-role platforms. In the near-term, the PLAN will have the capability to conduct long-range precision strikes against land targets from its submarine and surface combatants using land-attack cruise missiles, notably enhancing the PRC’s global power projection capabilities. The PRC is enhancing its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities and competencies to protect the PLAN’s aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines.”

And the Chinese Navy is expected to grow even bigger in the coming years.

“The PLAN’s overall battle force is expected to grow to 420 ships by 2025 and 460 ships by 2030. Much of this growth will be in major surface combatants. The PLAN’s force structure consists of three fleets with subordinate submarine flotillas, surface ship flotillas, aviation brigades, and naval bases.”

The report also got into the command structure of the Chinese military.

“Political Work Department Director Admiral Miao Hua oversees the PLA’s political work, including propaganda, organization, and education,” the reports said. “Miao is a former Army officer who switched services to the Navy in December 2014 when he became political commissar of the PLA Navy (PLAN). Miao may have ties to Xi from his time serving in the 31st Group Army in Fujian Province, when his career overlapped with Xi’s. Miao participated as the PLAN political commissar during the Navy’s BRI cruise conducted in mid-2017.”

The Diplomat had reported back in April that China, at that point, had the world’s largest Navy, while noting that this “matters less than you think.” The piece cited the United States Office of Naval Intelligence as stating that China had overtaken the U.S. Navy in size.

“Here we clearly see that talk of China’s massive navy is rather out of proportion. It should be noted that China’s fleet relies disproportionately on smaller classes of ships, like the frigate and corvette, which are widely considered not to be major surface combatants,” that report said. “Even still, the bulk of its numbers advantage comes from its coastal patrol ships which, while not insignificant, have limited capacity to project power beyond China’s near seas. Further, the United States maintains a massive carrier advantage. Wherever one falls on the debate over the continued viability of aircraft carriers, the fact remains that both states are interested in producing them.”

 Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Kenny Johnson

    November 5, 2021 at 11:12 am

    For God’s sake what business do you have to write about the China’s naval capabilities. Go back being a film critic or maybe writing a movie script about how China going to take over the world! Perhaps the military industry will provides funding for your movie. The fact is, US Naval and other branches are the best in the world. China would not be that stupid to start a war with the United States, there is no benefit in either sides. Also if you know China’s history, they are not exactly conquerer, the Great China Wall, case in point, look it up. I’m very tired that the military complex are ratcheting up China being the next boogie man, this is very dangerous, perception is more real than reality. So for the world sake go back to what you do best, being a film critic.

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