Nation's military power grows but still trails behind

Updated: 2015-09-04 08:59

By Chris Peterson(China Daily)

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China's military progress, to many outside observers and analysts, has been extraordinary. It is ranked third in terms of military might - behind the United States and Russia. And that's a sign of the peaceful but confident military presence that China wants to portray.

The US, the world's sole superpower, has 1.4 million active military personnel, with another 1.1 million in reserve. China, according to most online reports, boasts 2.33 million military personnel, with another 2.3 million in reserve.

However, aircraft and naval assets is where the US leads, with 13,892 aircraft of all types in service, and a naval fleet that includes 10 active aircraft carriers and 75 submarines, many of them nuclear capable.

From the hardware point of view, China lags far behind the US with 2,860 aircraft only and a largely surface navy with one aircraft carrier and 67 submarines.

But it is in defense spending that the US dwarfs its rivals. Current figures show the US military budget is $610 billion - $9 billion more than that of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, India and Germany combined. Given this fact, in March China decided to increase its defense spending for 2015 by 10 percent to $145 billion.

No one is predicting a war, but the old adage that walk softly and carry a big stick still rings true.

The author is managing editor, Europe, for China Daily.

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