China displays military advances in show of strength to rivals

Under President Xi Jinping, China has become more assertive diplomatically and strengthened its claim in the region militarily. While the China-US conflict focused on Taiwan, the arms race of the countries accelerated.

The struggle for dominance between the US and China in the South China Sea also affects other countries in the region. It forces many countries such as China, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Malaysia, which want to dominate the region, both politically and militarily.

Taiwan is one of the countries most affected by the power conflict between China and the USA.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have been going on for more than 70 years. Beijing, which does not accept that Taiwan is a separate country, sees Taiwan as a part of China in line with its "One China" policy.

A show of strength is being made by sending many warplanes to Taiwan's airspace by China. One of the most important factors of this situation is the strengthening of ties between Taiwan and the USA and the arms sales to Taiwan.


Repeated airstrikes near Taiwan and reports that China is testing hypersonic weapons draw attention to the modernization of China's armed forces and weapons development.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA), once hailed by the Communist Party for defeating its past enemies with only "maize and rifle", has now become the world's largest fighting force with more than two million active personnel.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has become more assertive diplomatically and bolstered its territorial claims with military prowess.

The expectation of a possible China-US conflict in the South China Sea is due to the fact that China is seen on equal terms by the US. This is a pretty good indicator of China's already increasing military strength.

In recent months, US navies and their diplomatic allies have regularly sailed in Asia-Pacific waters, including the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, to defend their rights of navigation in international waters.

In October, the US announced a new security alliance, AUKUS, with the UK and Australia, which will lead Australia to purchase nuclear powered submarines from the US.

Washington has also stepped up arms sales to Taiwan, which has modernized its military and developed asymmetric warfare capabilities to thwart any attack from Beijing, which claims the island as its own.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen this week confirmed reports that the US has provided Taiwan with more than a year of specialized military training.


The PLA's ground forces have been the foundation of China's power in the region.

According to the Pentagon's report, the Chinese army has more than 915,000 active soldiers in its ranks, eclipsing the United States, which has about 486,000 active soldiers in its ranks.

The military is also increasingly replenishing its arsenal with high-tech weapons.

In 2019, the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts say can hit any corner of the world, was unveiled during the National Day military parade. But it was the DF-17 hypersonic missile that caught most people's attention.

The missile tests carried out by China were approved by a US official for the first time. “What we saw was an important phase of testing a hypersonic weapons system, and it's very worrying” said Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

US-based reports indicate that China's missile is a nuclear-capable missile that can evade US air defense systems.

Milley said of the missile in question, “I don't know if it's a Sputnik moment, but I think it's very close to that. All our attention is on it.”

General Milley also warned that the Chinese army was "devolving from a very large peasant-based infantry army in 1979 to a much more extensive and highly capable army with global ambitions."


PLA is also developing its navy. The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is currently the world's largest navy and its submarines are capable of launching nuclear missiles, according to the government's defense report. This is where the country's army grows the fastest.

China has become the largest power in the Asia-Pacific region and the third largest in the world, with more than 2,500 aircraft and nearly 2,000 warplanes in its air force, according to an annual report released by the US Department of Defense last year.

Most importantly, the air force now has a fleet of stealth fighter jets, including the J-20, China's most advanced fighter jet. It was independently developed and designed to compete with the US-made F-22.

Globally, China is also accelerating arms exports to other developing countries in an effort to foster warmer relations with friendly countries amid regional rivalries.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, China's arms exports have mostly gone to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Algeria over the past decade.

Potentially the biggest problem, according to some analysts, is the PLA's lack of contemporary warfare experience. China's last war was in Vietnam.

On the other hand, military units organize various exercises for real combat.

President Xi is also pouring more money into the armed forces with a large defense budget. In fiscal year 2021, 1.36 trillion yuan (roughly $209.16 billion) was allocated to defense. This figure is 6.8% higher than last year.

Many countries in the region saw China as a threat, including the United States. Chinese military power pushes other countries to seek US aid, both overt and covert. China's assertive stance in the region shows that this arms race will not end anytime soon.