China Navy Versus the US Navy Now and Through 2030

China’s Navy now outnumbers the US Navy by 300 ships to 287 ship. The US ships are still much larger and more powerful and about 100 of China’s ships are coastal frigates and corvettes. The frigates and corvettes are really a stronger Coast Guard. China needs a stronger coast guard because of the many ships of Japan, India, and Russia.

The US has 105 aircraft carriers or Destroyers versus 39 for China. The US has 20 large and small aircraft carrier ships versus two for China.

China matches the US in the number of submarines at nearly 80, but about two-thirds are diesel submarines. China now has mostly converted to modern ships and submarines.

China’s main naval advantages are
* they make 36% of the world’s commercial ships. Number two is South Korea at 34% and Japan at 20%
* China is building about ten more naval ships per year than the USA.
* China is building more big ships including aircraft carriers

Commercial Shipping and Commercial Nuclear Dominance by 2030

A significant potential game-changer would be if China furthered developed the ability to mass produce quality commercial ships and combined it with mass-production of small modular nuclear reactors. Small modular reactors would enhance island military bases security by reducing supply chain vulnerability and enable a rapid enhancement of submarines and ships to full nuclear or hybrid nuclear capability.

The US military has a long-term vulnerability if there is a very weak commercial US shipping industry and a very weak commercial US nuclear industry.

Container throughput in China will reach 505 million TEUs by 2030. They will make three super container hub ports will be formed in Shanghai, Qingdao and Hong Kong, and Chinese firms will become global container terminal operators.

In 5-8 years, China should have the largest commercial shipping fleet. They should pass Japan for number two in world shipping in 2021.

World Navies Now

China is vastly inferior to the US ability to project military power around the world. However, China does have fortified islands and a lot of anti-ships missiles. This means that China can be very competitive in any regional conflict scenario around the South China Sea or Taiwan.

The US would still win clearly win any conflict now or even twenty years from now but the cost of victory and the time it would take would be big and escalate to huge.

China’s Navy is getting to a clear number two position. Which is significant to exceed the British (75 hulls), Russian (87 hulls) or Japanese (44 hulls) Navies.

Expected Ships for China’s Navy by 2030

By 2030, China’s Navy will have over 530 ships while the US might have 300-330 ships. The US will increase ships only if they lengthen the lives of older ships and get some additional budget for new shipbuilding and for more naval personnel.

China will build three 4000 ton frigate class ship each year. They will have 24 054Bs launched and up to 20 commissioned by 2030.

By 2030, China will have around forty 7,000 ton destroyers (052C/D/E) in service and about twenty 12,000 ton destroyers (055/A). Additional destroyers will likely be commissioned and bought after 2030.

By 2030, China could have 30-40 new nuclear submarines. They could be launching for three to four per year. China might then have over 100 submarines in the fleet and half could be nuclear.

China should have five to six carriers in service by 2030 and two to three could have size, airplane capacity and electromagnetic launch systems to compete with 11 top notch US aircraft carriers.

China will have beefed up amphibious assault fleet. They could have twelve LPDs (Landing Platform docks) and five to six LHDs (landing helicopter docks) by 2030. This would be significant if they wanted to land troops on Taiwan.

SOURCES – the Diplomat, China Power CSIS
Written By Brian Wang,

65 thoughts on “China Navy Versus the US Navy Now and Through 2030”

  1. I think it's time America and NATO countries stop pouring cash into China. That has enabled China's vast military growth. Stop using China as the latest place to find cheap labor. It's subversive to enrich our enemies. Rain in the companies that are manufacturing in communist held countries. There are plenty of impoverished non-communist countries that could use that kind of manufacturing base. This is Corporate greed at it's worst. Huge profit today with no concern for the monster they are creating, which our children will die on the battlefield to rectify.

  2. The thing about the US is that we are a stable economy. We have built up where we are over decades. China has just went gung ho with their economy. It will catch up to them eventually. China is taking a huge hit with the trade war, and a disease has rocked their economic boat. America won’t be as effected by it like China would, because our stability is strong.

  3. China has more ships, but not a stinger Navy. Having more of something doesn’t mean more power. It is the quality and power of the ships built. The US has more ships where it matters than china does. Our aircraft carriers, all of them, are so powerful, they would wreak havoc on any navy in the world.

  4. We should buy nothing from China , they have used the money from the USA to build a military to kill Americans, to try to sink our carriers and to replace us as the leading nation on Earth. Don’t buy their crap and China implodes, they are in worse shape than we are as far as national debt. China builds cities where no one lives just to claim they are the number one economic power in the world. China makes no secret about what their plans for America are , they want to destroy the nation that has made them one of the richest nation’s on earth. China is our enemy, the government, not the people and we should destroy their military while we still can before it is to late. If America continues to buy 5 or 600 hundred billion dollars worth of their junk every year for the next 20 to 25 years, we will have given them the money to be able to destroy america., Which is China’s goal.

  5. You can not do that as after that you would not be able to buy from Apple Iphones as they are made in China

  6. And?? Where do they get their raw materials from and whose financial system are they dependent upon foe their trade? They are breaking TWO different sanction regimes and violating the GATT and WTO agreements every which way. We have not evem got to the point of sanctions yet.

  7. First, off China lies about such things as their electricity consumption and light pollution numbers indicate. Second, we are not evwn done with the 2nd quarter so i would not suggeat counting your eggs bwfore they hatch. That ranks right up there with people calling a massive slow down in the u.s. economy despite decades od evidence that rhw 1st quarter seasonal adjustment numbers for the 1st quarter have been consistent bad and the rest of the year has been historocally better than the first quarter for decades.

  8. Very poorly written trash article full of mistakes and false assumptions. April fools was a month ago.

  9. Is the survivability of these old constructs dependent on the inability of an advisory to afford 26 missiles? Isn’t the flaw in any new defense system that can handle “n” attackers simply “n+1”?

    “…future lasers will be able to take down anti ship ballistic missile.”
    Aren’t lasers easier to defend against than mass projectiles?

  10. What the writer said was that in commericial production of ships China is doing much better. As for military ships America is always No. 1.

  11. Remains to be seen if nuclear powers can fight a limited war.
    May you live in interesting times.

  12. International you mean American led by the little master, you’re being played, led to failure.

  13. Trump is just the little boy with his finger in the dyke. All the cracks radiating out don’t bode well, and when you pull your little finger out and piss on the leg of the guy who could help you end up with a big wet feeling. You off shore production for greed and whine when you can’t produce anymore. No one is talking about all these big bad greedy choices. Now the world has to get on board for Thermo nuclear war because you feel hard done by. More brains less weapons, why would you want to destroy what we have, at least what hasn’t been ruined mindlessly so far.

  14. China is growing at a much lower rate. Probably also 2%-2.5% a year. Many internal reports indicate to that. The official numbers are a sham. Don’t you see how stable and well lined they come every year, with a moderate linear decrease in the past few years?

  15. Losing steam?
    Forecast for GDP growth in 2019 is about 6.4%, for 2020 is about the same
    The US is growing 2.3% and 2%
    you are nridiculous

  16. Uh?
    Sure in your dreams.
    Has any of your dream systems been checked in a real war?
    Heck even the Israeli Iron Dome could not fend off more than 50% of cheap Hezbollah missiles

  17. Dont think so.
    Just a couple of $10K missiles and the almighty aircraft carrier (a $5B jewel) is sunk and sleeping with the fishes
    Even if the aircraf carrier has a powerful defence that allows to intercept 90% of the incoming missiles (wishful thinking) you just need 20 missiles to sink her
    This is why the US always keeps their carriers far from enemy fire
    Just saying

  18. Wont work.
    Its too late
    To redesign the tech, even if possible, would take ages.
    In 2022-2023 China will pass the US as the largest economy in real terms, which means will be able to impose their will on other countries.
    Choose us or US, and all South East countries will be forced to dimp the dollar
    Spiral will begin.
    And what about Apple?
    Just state that no Chinese company will be able to work on Iphones anymore and Apple will be cooked.
    Not hurt, not damaged but Cooked
    Cook will be cooked.
    From $1T company to $50B compan y (maybe)
    Wont sell one Iphone anymore
    Day of reckoning is coming /.
    Sun Tzu said batttles are won BEFORE being fought
    China won the cold war with the US in 1978 when all the supply chain started to move from the US to China
    Now it is too late for the US
    Hail a new century for CHina

  19. Not working like this, pal..
    1) Spratley Island affair not going well? Uh? This is news to me.
    There was a lot of noise about one year ago about “Chinese are not going away with it” and instead it seems that they HAVE gone away with it.
    Not much talking about this anymore..
    2) China will not address any intellectual rights stuff, at least until she becomes the leader in IT, jet engines, EUV litho, EV cars (oh wait, they are already the leaders here) etc. If needed they will bailoout Huawei and keep copying ..
    And after that, start to dump the dollar, sell J20s to Iran, sell US bonds, forse South East Asian countries to choose between the US dollar and the Chinese yuan (and they will choose the yuan), etc.

  20. I think China will fall under 6% GDP growth this year by the time Trump is done with IT. (not she).

  21. You’re confusing growth with acceleration.

    Here’s why the conflation is misleading:

    Multiplying the acceleration rate of China’s 2008 economy (9.7%) by its GDP ($10 Tn) tells us its growth: $0.97 Tn.

    Multiplying the acceleration rate of China’s 2018 economy (6.6%) by its GDP ($24 Tn) tells us its growth: $1.6 Tn.

    Since China’s population is unchanged in that decade, we can see that growth in 2018 was twice 2008’s, even though the acceleration rate back then was higher.

  22. That would be when Trump gets around to using the International Economic Emergency Act.

  23. And no my thinking is no based upon that. It is based on the fact that the entire chinese economy is utterly dependent upon a global trade and financials system that works because America kept it working and America no longer cares to do so and is in fact actively working in a nonkenetic manner to slowly dismantle it.

  24. You are a bad American. You view China with higher esteem then your own country. shameful.

  25. Aegis Defense system is already capable of defeating 25 missiles attacks and is being upgraded with new radars which are now being installed on latest destroyers and upcoming frigates. the new radar is 10 times more powerful… And future lasers will be able to take down anti ship ballistic missile.

  26. Yeah, right. Next year all those slaves will have a home, a job, plenty of food, education, safe streets, health- and old age care.

    500,000,000 urban Chinese will have more net worth and disposable income than the average American, their mothers and infants will be less likely to die in childbirth, their children will graduate from high school three years ahead of American kids and live longer, healthier lives.

    There will be more drug addicts, suicides and executions, more homeless, poor, hungry and imprisoned people in America than in China.

  27. You must not have read the memo. China’s missiles in all classes and sizes, outrange ours by at least 100%.

  28. Aircraft carriers are the most protected and survivable vessels out there. It is just a fact. If you think smaller boats are more survivable try using them against a US carrier battle group. Plus soon enough laser carrier defenses will make them even more invulnerable.

  29. My assumption is at least based on data. Yours are based on wishful thinking:
    1990. China’s economy has come to a halt. The Economist 
    1996. China’s economy will face a hard landing. The Economist 
    1998. China’s economy’s dangerous period of sluggish growth. The Economist
    1999. Likelihood of a hard landing for the Chinese economy. Bank of Canada
    2000. China currency move nails hard landing risk coffin. Chicago Tribune
    2001. A hard landing in China. Wilbanks, Smith & Thomas 
    2002. China Seeks a Soft Economic Landing. Westchester University 
    2003. Banking crisis imperils China. New York Times
    2004. The great fall of China? The Economist
    2005. The Risk of a Hard Landing in China. Nouriel Roubini 
    2006. Can China Achieve a Soft Landing? International Economy
    2007. Can China avoid a hard landing? TIME
    2008. Hard Landing In China? Forbes
    2009. China’s hard landing. China must find a way to recover. Fortune
    2010: Hard landing coming in China. Nouriel Roubini
    2011: Chinese Hard Landing Closer Than You Think. Business Insider
    2012: Economic News from China: Hard Landing. American Interest 
    2013: A Hard Landing In China. Zero Hedge 
    2014. A hard landing in China. CNBC 
    2015. Congratulations, You Got Yourself A Chinese Hard Landing. Forbes 
    2016. Hard landing looms for China. The Economist
    2017. Is China’s Economy Going To Crash? National Interest
    2018. China’s Coming Financial Meltdown. The Daily Reckoning.

  30. Chinese contribute 40% of their wages to retirement and other benefits. The shortfall is a temporary hiccup in the changeover from non-portable, provincial pensions to portable national pensions–for which Xi held up our Social Security as a model. He also covered the shortfall by transferring equity from SOEs (some of the most profitable corporations on earth) into the retirement fund.

    All of your future hopes for China’s downfall pale in the light of China’s current dominance of R&D.

  31. The US is building 2 Ford class aircraft carriers at the same time whereas China is working on a single smaller and inferior carrier but somehow Brian thinks China has an upper hand in large military ship building… How about you remove your pro China bias? As to building large civilian vessel capacity, it has nothing to do with the military unless China is going to battle on cruise ships. Besides South Korea. U.K. and Japan are strategic allies of the United States and will be building large military vessels for the U.S.

  32. Again you assume what has gone before will continue as it has. The Chinese wconomy was decelerating BEFORE the trade war and it will only get worse for them. Where as the u.s. economy is accelerating and just eliminating the trade deficit will increase gdp to over 11% (due to how gdp is counted) assuming domestic production expands to meet demand. Id it dis not expand to meet demand thwn gsp would rise to a mere 7%. It is why the country with rhe teade deficit has rhw advantages in a trade war. It is also why the globalist economist lie when saying the economy will contract if a trade war happens. They can say that because rheu deliberately uses a different measure to discuss economic activity when dealing with the Trump trade war instead of gdp.

  33. And such missiles have zero impact on aircraft. All 4 branches are working on a joint strategy of maritime dominance where the navy will not have to deal with such missiles at all. I will also point out with minor modifications to existing weapons and prior proposed aircraft any perceived chinese advantage can be negated.

  34. You will know the game is in its end game when the International Economic Emergency Act is invoked and Pres. Carter’s white house statement on the One China policy is reversed or abrogated.

  35. The u.s. also mines rare earths and the issie is not mining but refining. Recycling and substitutes can work until a new rare earth processing facility can be built. Even china state run media admits it is not a hols card.

  36. Considering PPP yes it is bigger and they don’t buy their military hardware with dollar they build it within china

  37. The issue people should be thinking about is…..whats Chinas answer? And the answer to avoid internal strife is….a external enemy.

  38. China has not exhibited remarkable stability over the past hundred years. Putting the Chinese people in chains was not the smartest thing Xi could have done. He is burning the fleet when he makes his people slaves.

  39. I thought Curtis Chin, an Asia fellow at the Milken Institute, a think tank, said it well the other day:

    However, tensions between China and the U.S. — as well as other parts of the world — did not develop just recently and will take time to work through, Chin told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”


    “It’s really reflecting an adjustment of China’s rise and how China behaves when it’s no longer that poor nation of 20, 30 years ago, when maybe some of the things it was doing were more accepted of a developing nation,” Chin said.


    As one of the world’s largest economies now, “some of the things we might have accepted from a poorer nation maybe no longer fit the bill in terms of where China should fit into this region,” said Chin.

    In other words, when a poor man steals bread from us to feed his family, we might look the other way. When our neighbor, the one buying sports cars and vacation homes (air craft carriers and man-made islands in the South China Sea), steals bread from us, we (and all the rest of the neighborhood) tend to get a bit miffed.

  40. By 2040, China could have $10 to 100 trillion in unfunded pension costs. China is about to experience the most rapid aging crisis in human history, with the ratio of workers-to-retirees shrinking from 8-to-1 today to 2-to-1 by 2040.

    Like Putin, Xi sees the handwriting on the wall and knows the future of his country is not nearly as bright as he would wish. It’s like after the Titanic hit the iceberg; the outcome was inevitable, what followed was just physics and trying to get as many of the women and children into the inadequate number of lifeboats as possible.

    So Xi, like Putin, is trying to make hay while the sun shines. Trying to get as far ahead as possible so that it might mitigate what’s coming. Trouble is, either he, or he and his advisers, are not especially good at making hay.

    Yes, automation could save the day, but that would probably depend on it rolling out slowly, so that workers losing their jobs will be more likely to adjust or have time to retire. For various reasons, keeping it slow is extremely unlikely and will end in further disaster for those who try (because someone else won’t).

    Yet, it’s no secret what happens in China when huge masses of people become unemployed and desperate.

    Xi is trying to ride a tiger and didn’t bring a saddle.

  41. From numerous sources last year and this year:

    Researchers have found hundreds of years’ worth of critical rare-earth metals beneath Japanese waters — enough to supply to the world on a “semi-infinite basis,” according to a study published on Tuesday.

    The materials sit in a roughly 965-square-mile Pacific Ocean seabed near Minamitorishima Island, which is located 1,150 miles southeast of Tokyo, according to the study published in Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports.

  42. I’ve also heard of deposits found off the coast of Japan … but at the same time, I’ve been reading that there has been a lot of development of alternatives that can replace rare earth materials with common resources.

  43. I think Rare Earths are a special case… as they are highly toxic…
    I know in Australia we were shipping our mining output to Malaysia as we didn’t even want to process/handle it….,12619

    Whilst we have great mines here, we perhaps don’t want the downstream toxic products…

  44. If I remember correctly one of the trump’s presidential campaign issues was to Add a lot of small ships to US navy and to sail them everywhere… to which the US media complained that we don’t need small navy ships…

  45. China aggression will be met with counter action, and it can, considering that is directed toward so many parties at once altogether more powerful than herself now and in the foreseeable future and China loosing steam as an economic powerhouse.

  46. Well, I think the aircraft carriers are really overrated, its difficult for them to survive in fight with comparable modern adversary.

    The effective way to deal with US Navy probably would be develop ballistic missiles with homing warheads and grid of satellites with SAR radar on board.

    It would allow to pinpoint USA  aircraft carriers group in any weather and any location. The problem with aircraft carriers is that, they are constantly moving and so it was difficult to locate them and get in the range in the past.

    But with grid of radar satellites it would be easy to have their precise location in real time. After that, they could targeted be with ballistic missiles, launching from convenience of Chinese homeland

    If ballistic missile carried for example 5 homing warheads and one salvo consist of 5 missiles, then Aegis Defense system should  simultaneously defeat 25 incoming warheads, which could also make evasive maneuvers and deploy stealth coating to make it harder to intercept.

    If one one missile cost 60 million dollars 5 missiles cost 300 millions dollars which make it cost effective against carrier worth 10-12 billion dollars each.

  47. REMs are indeed a short-term pickle but manufacturing was recently set up in Vietnam and I’ve heard rumblings of deposits in Mexico.

    WRT China’s tariffs on American goods, there’s an article in the SCMP how Beijing has set up a “tariff exemption” process and basically actively solicited “nationally important industries” to apply for the exemptions. Credit Suisse note this afternoon estimated that China’s tariffs will only effectively apply to ~50% of U.S imports.

  48. We spend 3.6% of GDP on the military and China spends 1.9% of their much bigger, much faster growing GDP on defense.

    Economic trends indicate that, by 2028, China will spend more on military than us.

    Already, in 2019, no naval vessel can come closer than 1000 miles to China’s coast without her forbearance. All her missiles outrange all of ours.

    Fleets win battles, economies win wars.

  49. Its not just the merchant fleet, lad. See above. 

    There are now probably more than 100 industrially critical technologies which China has been slowly, inexorably market-underselling, in order to put out of business all foreign competition. To prevent the very kind of Trade War that Trump (as many pundits say, imprudently…) has decided to engage. 

    Her thought wasn’t just to monopolize for geopolitical insurance, but once secured, to re-profitize the subsidized product manufacturing to reap steep and non-competitive profits endlessly thereafter. 

    Truly, when left unfettered, an industrial carcinogen. 

    Trump is the first Western entity to apply “radiation therapy” to the problem in the broadest and most cancer-radiation-therapy ‘simile’ sense. First limited tariffs, then more when met by China, then more again, to now nearly all-product tariffs, across the board.

    Do NOT believe the press on this one: The Trade War is STILL strongly in China-as-aggressor stage. QUANTITATIVELY.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  50. “Decoupling the economies” is not ‘easy’. Prez Xi yesterday off-calendar visited the largest exporter of rare-earth magnets. 

    Nearly every “modern tool” or “invisible deployment” has them. China provides the WORLD with 83% rare-earth mags now. They cornered the market. Critically. 

    China could do “proxy punishment”, denying export to the US but also to America’s allies. Instant outrage.

    Quite simply one cannot force an offended exporter to ship critical materials if she doesn’t want to. You could go in with troops, guns, tanks, planes and missiles, and the magnets won’t ship… closed plants.

    And that is what Xi may be edging toward, as our mutual Trade War continues.  

    China now imposes a 25% tariff on ALL% of America’s export-to-China products. US in turn has a 10%-to–25% tariff on less than 40% of China’s exports.

    At this point, it would be good if American tariff revenue is invested in locally (re-)developing the crucial technologies. Rare-earth super-magnets. Ceramic bearings. Small-to-medium motor winding. Linear actuators, linear long-reach ‘motors’. Sensors, optics, rapid-turnaround circuit building.

    Moreover, we might be wise to also commit to a moratorium on buying their “crâhp stuff” which China pumps out. Fake transistors, fake chips, fake memory cards, fake everything. Total denial of THAT ‘market’ to China.

    Then the picture would change.
    Count on it.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  51. Funny you mention that. That’s something I’ve always kept in the back of my mind in the event of a recession or high unemployment.

  52. Amd none of it will happen. Xi has chosen his course and that means there will not be the money or raw material imports for that build up. Not to mention the ONLY thing that needs to be done to rebuild the u.s. merchant ship fleet is to expand the Jones act to cover all commerce.

  53. IMO the most likely outcome of the U.S.-China trade war is an economic decoupling of the two nations. SE Asian nations will play both sides. The U.S. will become further regionalized in NA. China will likely become a net importer especially as it ages.

  54. OK, so China is (as expected, predicted, projected and endlessly debated) becoming the № 2 → № 1 Naval superpower. Since she¹ is clearly the № 1 exporter-of-goods-as-a-nation, it is clear indeed that she¹ needs to maintain a strong navy to keep her shipping lanes, channels, obligations and opportunities from subterfuge.  

    Clear enough.

    I think though an Offensive China Naval projection capability is a bit overplayed. Her reach is global already, industrially. Her navy is an almost-completely defensive role. 

    However, China’s dalliance with blatantly taking the Spratley Islands, dredging-and-paving to naval bases, and openly commandeering additional forward naval sovereignty strands … is very likely NOT going to end well, if she¹ keeps up with the program.  

    They, and the sovereign claims China has both made, implied and is expanding upon, will be tested at some point. Militarily. As sovereign rights require. 

    I just don’t think it is 3 decades out. 
    Less than 2 decades. My gut feeling.

    The Trade War (which still remains hugely overbalanced in China’s direction!): she¹ will need to address the US demands for trade-and-intellectual-rights parity. It is the tiny “radioactive pinhead” at the center of everything.  

    And if China import-blockades, or ceases shipping critically needed goods to The West, well … suffering for a bit. Then the Big Hammer will start swinging. And China, will rue the day.


    ¹ – feminine is English tradition, for sovereigns

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