When it comes to active members of the Army, China is head and shoulders above anyone else. China has more than 2 million active members of the army, which is much more than what the United States have, for example. There are only three other nations exceeding 1 million active members of the army. Those are India with 1.395 million, the United States with 1.358 million, and the Russian Federation with little over 1 million.
However, China doesn’t have the largest army if you take into account reserves as well. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea, has the largest reserve army in the world, which is by some accounts more than 6 million people.
China’s army was established in 1927 as the China People’s Liberation Army. It is made of ground forces, NAVY, artillery, armed police, and a strong air force. Most of the people in the army are between 18 and 49 years of age. By law, military service is compulsory in China. However, the China has never enforced conscription due to the large number of volunteers.
The army in China is divided into five branches, and from there, into sub-branches. The five main branches are Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and Strategic Support Force. Over the past several years, China’s army has grown into being one of the strongest armies in the world. Here are a couple of facts to keep in mind.
They can sink a US carrier with a single missile
China’s army has an anti-ship missile that can easily sink a US carrier. The new ballistic missile was rumored for years, before it was unveiled to the public in 2015. The missile is named Dongfeng-21D. What is unique about this missile is that it can be launched from a land installation. From there, the missile goes into the orbit, and tracks a ship over the horizon. This missile flies 10 times the speed of sound, making it unstoppable once in flight.
They Have Hundreds of Nuclear Warheads
China’s nuclear capability is a state secret. However, some independent agencies estimate the country has a raw number of nuclear warheads between 250 and 260. Now, that might not be a large number, but it is still big enough to kill millions. The country is obligated by the “no first use” policy. It will not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state.
Most of these nuclear weapons are stored in secret submarine bases. That is why their nuclear capability is a mystery. There are bases that can hold as many as 20 nuclear submarines. The Yulin Naval Base, for example, is a small base located at the mouth of the South China Sea. It is officially secret, and China has never acknowledged that this base exists.
Powerful cyber army
China’s Cyber Warfare capabilities are terrifying, and even more important, totally unknown. Many of their military strategies depend on seizing control of the electronic frontier. They do that through active offensive action and espionage.
According to some estimates, China has more than 130,000 people in various cyber-warfare divisions. These warfare capabilities are also shrouded in secrecy, same as the nuclear capability.
However, so far, they have proven to be able to take control of electronics on other countries, disable networks, steal secrets, hack databases, and launch disinformation campaigns.
Three dozen companies in the US have been hacked in the past several years, including Google, Northup Grumman, and Dow Chemical. Nobody knows who hacked them, but China is among the leading suspects.
They can knock out satellites
We said previously China has some advanced missiles. Now, another one to keep in mind. They can knock out a satellite with a single missile. The country conducted the first anti-satellite missile successful test in 2007. It was the first since the US did it in 1985.
Their budget is small, but effective
In raw numbers, China’s military budget is far behind the US. For example, the official defense budget in 2018 was $175 billion, with some experts estimating in reality it was more than $200 billion. That is still far away from the $700 billion America spent in 2018 fiscal year.
However, China has the advantage of acquiring technology through direct purchase, retrofits, or intellectual property theft. And that is without pouring money into research and development. Because of this, China can develop its army at a much lower cost.