This video shows you that Superpower Military Showdown: China vs. America (On Land, Sea and in the Air).
Two superpowers eye each other uneasily across the Pacific—one well established after decades of Cold War conflict, the other a rising power eager to reclaim regional hegemony. Fortunately, despite profoundly different political systems, China and the United States are not as intrinsically hostile to each other as were the West and the Soviet Union—in fact, they have a high degree of economic interdependence.
Still, history shows that there is often a risk of war when a rising power challenges the ascendancy of an existing one. Beijing and Washington have profound—though fortunately not comprehensive—disagreements on matters of global governance. They also have reasons to mistrust each other. Fortunately, there are historical examples of rival superpowers coexisting mostly peacefully for long periods of time. For example, see the century in between the defeat of Napoleon and World War I, during which there was no European-wide war.
Still, the balance of power between nations will likely play a role alongside diplomacy—a fleet that is never used in war may still prevent one, for example, by deterring possible opponents.
China today has the largest military on the planet, with two million active personnel in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). However, China only spends slightly over one-third as much as the United States, accounting for thirteen percent of annual global military spending in 2017, compared to thirty-five percent by the United States according to SIPRI.
Yet, the Chinese government is aware that the large size of its forces in part reflects an antiquated mid-twentieth century force structure emphasizing massive, low-quality ground armies. Starting in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping—who seems set to remain in power indefinitely—announced a major reform initiative to radically downsize PLA ground forces to improve their quality.
PLA ground and air forces still exhibit a wide range of quality, fielding both early Cold War systems and cutting-edge variants. For example, the PLA musters 8,000 tanks—but 3,000 are 1950s-era Type 59 and Type 63 tanks. At the same time, the PLA also fields 500 Type 99 tanks which are in a similar ballpark to the very capable U.S. M1 Abrams. The PLA Air Force also has a similar issue. For instance, of its 1,700 aircraft, roughly a third are dated J-7 fighters, while another fourth include modern fourth-generation J-10s and J-11s comparable to U.S. F-15s and F-16s and even a few fifth-generation stealth fighters.
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