18 February 2021

Honored to be Interviewed by Patricia Lourdes Viray in The Philippine Star: “By Number, China Now Has World’s Largest Navy—Report”

Patricia Lourdes Viray, “By Number, China Now Has World’s Largest Navy—Report,” interview of Andrew Erickson, The Philippine Star, 18 February 2021.

MANILA, Philippines — In terms of ships deployed at sea, China’s navy has overtaken the United States, making it the world’s largest, according to a report.

Andrew Erickson, a professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute at the US Naval War College, wrote that China fielded more battle force ships than the US Navy sometime between 2015 and 2020.

In an article titled “The Chinese Naval Shipbuilding Bookshelf”, Erickson noted that with around 360 ships, China’s navy exceeds its American counterpart by more than 60 warships.

In addition to this, China’s coast guard and maritime militia bring the total of the Chinese sea forces to over 700 ships.

Erickson attributed the buildup on Beijing’s sea power to its commercial shipbuilding industry, which subsidizes and supports military shipbuilding efforts.

China’s shipbuilding reflects its efforts to “coercively envelop Taiwan, resolve other sovereignty disputes in its favor, carve out the region as zone of exceptionalism to international rules and norms, and project Beijing’s power and influence around the world.”

According to the report, for each surface combatant that the US produces, China makes two to three warships.

If this continues, China would be able to deploy a fleet with a larger quantity and “qualitatively on par” with the US Navy by 2030, Erickson said.

Quantity vs quality

Despite the growing number of Chinese warships, the US Navy remains the strongest in the world in terms of capabilities.

“While the capability gap is narrowing rapidly in some warfare areas, for example, Chinese navy and coast guard ships lag behind their American counterparts in overall individual capabilities,” Erickson told Philstar.com in an online exchange.

The strategy professor noted that China’s coast guard (CCG) lags behind its American and Japanese counterparts when it comes to air assets. … … …