China’s navy has more ships than the US. Does that matter?
(Military Times | April 9, 2021) Exactly if and when the increasing antagonism between United States and China will boil over into full-on conflict remains anybody’s guess.
But for now, one thing is as clear as the aqua-blue waters that lap up on the shores of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea: Beijing’s naval fleet is larger than that of the U.S. Navy.
Citing the Office of Naval Intelligence, a Congressional Research Service report from March notes that the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, was slated to have 360 battle force ships by the end of 2020, dwarfing the U.S. fleet of 297 ships.
Such numbers are hard to pinpoint because the PLAN doesn’t release public reports on its future shipbuilding efforts like the U.S. Navy does …
… When it comes to fleet size, Robert Murrett notes that China’s fleet largely remains in its backyard, while a good number of the U.S. force is underway around the world, making a number-to-number assessment incomplete.
There’s also a tendency to view any maritime conflict between the United States and China as a two-party affair, which sidelines the significant role America’s allies in the region would likely play, Murrett said.
Japan, Australia and South Korea all sport robust navies in the region, and the United States is increasingly working to bring India into the fold as that country deals with its own Beijing-related rivalries.
“We just take for granted the incredible network of allies we have around the world,” Murrett said. “The view from Beijing in terms of maritime partners is pretty bleak. They don’t have any that are worth mentioning” …