China Vs Taiwan: How are The Rivals Stacked Up Against Each Other in Military Strength?

China and Taiwan have been dealing with the worst military tension in over 40 years. Taiwan's defence minister even warned of the risk of an accidental strike between the two.

While Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state, China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. Chiu Kuo-cheng made the comments after China sent a "record number" of military jets into Taiwan's air defence zone earlier this month. Taiwan's air defence zone covers the Taiwan Strait and a large part of the Chinese mainland. Taiwan considers jets crossing an unofficial line between China and Taiwan as an invasion.

Taiwan's Defence Minister also noted China could be capable of a full-scale invasion of the island by 2025. After communists took over in 1949, Taiwan broke away from the mainland of China. Tensions between the two countries have been escalating ever since.

Here's how both countries compare against each other in terms of military strength:

Defence budget and manpower

According to, China thrives on a military budget of $252 billion which amounts to 1.7% of its GDP. On the other side, Taiwan's military budget, which makes up 2.35% of its GDP, is only about $13 billion. Talking of manpower, China has over 2 million active personnel. Taiwan, on the other hand, falls gravely short with only 290,000. Taiwan, however, treads forward with a 1,655,000 reserve surplus, while China only has 510,000 reserve personnel.

China set to announce sharp increase in defence spending
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march past Tiananmen Gate during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. (Representational Image) Reuters

Ground Vehicles and Artillery

According to, China has a fleet of 5,750 tanks in its armory, which is around 5 times that of Taiwan with 1160. With around 35000 armored vehicles, China stomps way ahead of Taiwan which has only 8750. China has a total of 3260 aircraft in its fleet with 1200 fighter aircraft. Taiwan's aircraft fleet consists of 288 fighter aircraft making up a total of 739.

IDF Tanks in Gaza
Representational Image Wikimedia Commons

China has 2,250 mobile rocket projectors as opposed to Taiwan's 115 and self-propelled artillery stands at 1970 versus 257 respectively.

Naval Power

Naval forces have the capability of turning around a full-fledged military dispute towards either side. China has a total of 777 naval assets including 2 aircraft carriers, 74 submarines, 50 destroyers, 46 Frigates, 72 Corvettes, 123 Patrol Vessels, and 36 Mine Warfare. On the other hand, Taiwan's fleet strength falls way behind in comparison with 117 naval assets comprising 4 Submarines, 4 Destroyers, 22 Frigates, 1 Corvette, 43 Patrol Vessels, and 10 Mine Warfares.

U.S. submarine makes South Korea port call
Representational Image Reuters

Nuclear weapons

According to reports by SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), China possesses around 320 nuclear warheads as of last year. Taiwan, on the other hand, does not have nuclear weapons.