Balance of Superpowers: Comparing the US and Chinese Armed Forces

Note: to see the bigger version of this infographic, click here.
Balance of Superpowers: Comparing the US and Chinese Armed Forces

Balance of Superpowers: Comparing the US and Chinese Armed Forces

Note: to see the bigger version of this infographic, click here.

Whether China is busy championing trade deals outside of the US dollar, buying up some of the world’s biggest companies, taking over foreign housing markets, or building massive networks of nuclear or wind power grids, it is clear that the country is a world power to be reckoned with.

To be considered a true force, China also needs to be able to back up its economic and political might with a top notch military. Today’s infographic compares the armed forces of China with the United States.

In terms of military spending per capita, China is the new kid on the block. Although it has increased in recent years, China is still behind Russia, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. However, the country does make up for it with in absolute terms by its sheer population. In terms of total military expenditures, China spends the second most worldwide with a total of approximately $216 billion per year, which is about one-third of the US.

In GDP terms, China spends about 2.1% of its annual GDP on military, and the United States spends 3.8%.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two superpowers is influence in other parts of the world. The United States has 133 military bases outside of its territory, and China has zero. More specifically, the United States has bases in multiple jurisdictions that surround China: South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Singapore, Guam, Afghanistan, and Diego Garcia, a set of small islands in Indian Ocean.

Original graphic by: SCMP


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  • James Clander

    You forgot to mention that the USA is the Worlds number 1 Bully & War Criminal having started 81% of ALL wars since WW2 ! World class A$$holes.

    • J Timothy

      Mow murdered millions of its own citizens after wwII. North Vietnam is holding hostage MILLIONS of humans in the equivalent of a psychohell on earth.
      You’re going to take the side of China? If you are Chinese and want to criticize the government, guess what, you need to register your name and address with the local communist official party leader.
      Yea, the US deploys Nixon’s REAL POLITIC, but guess what, this world is a shit hole and without the US who is going to step up? Canada? Holland? Londonstan? Team America is the best we have right now and if you view it as a bully, then lets see Canada or New Zealand or any other arm chair quarterbacks step up and offer a real planetary solution.

      • eX | Machina

        That’s some seriously messed up logic J Timothy. In your tiny mind US crimes can be swept under the rug because they are a necessary evil? Mao slaughtered his own people, the US slaughters everybody else. There is no other differences here, other than your messed up perception of good and evil.

      • allah_speaking

        You’re an idiot and the quicker you wake up to the fact the better off for the rest of us.

        Justify in detail every country on this list. Justify every dead body.

        • DearLeaderMaobama

          It’s a shame we missed you.

        • J Timothy

          Stop holding the US to unrealistic standards. The US has a problem with communism and dictatorships not serving its interests . I suppose you think that after the US overthrew governments in Germany, Japan, Italy, Austria, etc, tallied our dead, then noticed that communism was expanded and leaving 100millions with a dirt nap, it should turn a blind eye? Ever heard of the cold war? The US acts in its own interests. Shocker. Name one country that doesnt. …more. Cri kets

          • Anton

            Read it, ignorant block: it’s none of american business. Now in XXI c. UScum will respond for all invasions.

          • J Timothy

            So the entire 320 million americans are scum? The most diverse population on Earh is scum? Generalize much?

        • James

          This link leaves a lot to be desired if one is looking for truth. According to this list, if a country (such as Russia, Cuba or ..?) invades or foments a revolution and the US supports the current government, it is a US aggression? By this standard, the invasion of France, during WWII would be considered US aggression.

          How peaceful was the world before the US became a superpower? And, after WWII, if we had reverted to isolationism, I am sure that Stalin and Mao would have been completely angelic and peaceful rulers who would have respected the sovereignty of other nations and never fomented invasions or revolutions. ABSOLUTELY!!

          no time or desire to go the full list but, if a few on the list are TOTALLY false, the whole list is suspect. lets just look at a few of the so called US aggression’s listed:

          Bulgaria- 1990: Really? After 40 years of communist domination with a one party government, the Bulgarians elected a new government. While their transition to a republic was difficult and still corruption, I suppose, because we recognized the new government, we instigated that huh?

          Ukraine – 2014: REALLY (again) ???? LOL … american aggression? no other comment needed

          Albania – 1991: Fall of Communism in Albania bad? After 47 years of Communist domination they finally broke free and are trying to self govern. No, there is no Nefarious US CIA plot here.

          Portugal 1976: The military coup in 1974 was not US directed. the Carnation Revolution, was a result of many factors … they were a dictatorship and a colonial power Yes, there was concern within NATO and France, at most they only assisted the revolution. the result? afterwards, its colonies were freed and a republic was formed.

          by your standards, if its a dictator or communist its good and being free bad??

          Egypt_Suez: not the US!! It was Britain and France. the US, under Eisenhower, actually forced the ceasefire and negotiated a truce.

          Afghanistan 1980’s: Soviet invasion (yes, we did supply weapons and advice).

          that’s only a FEW of the falsehoods.

          Is the US innocent? absolutely not. are our hands clean? absolutely not. Nor are anyone else. if you wish to point a finger just remember that there are 3 more pointing back at you. If you call someone an idiot, you are probably looking in a mirror at your own reflection,.

          Name one country in history where, after winning a war, the victor did not keep land obtained or exact retribution? US?

          we could/can debate the wars but, we purchased the Louisiana territories from France and Alaska from Russia. After winning war with mexico, we purchased the south west and left mexico. After the Spanish american war we paid Spain and acquired the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam. PI wanted independence_ we gave it. Puerto Rico asked us to move our bases? we did. If Guam or PR were ask for independence (I wish they would) we would give it.

          After WWII all countries were independent (yes, japan and Germany WERE occupied but now self ruling .. can you say the same for Russian occupation?

          When Germany wanted us to remove our bases we started to until they suddenly saw how much they would lose (other countries begging us to move there) and then begged us to stay.

          If we remove our bases and become isolationist there would be an arms race in SE Asia and yes, Europe. Most countries with US bases, have them due to treaties (NATO and SEATO) and use the US for security so they do not have to increase their own military’s.

      • JP

        Nixon was a liar, a criminal, and a traitor. Wage and price controls? Abandon the psuedo gold standard? Welfare? China? CFR (Rockefeller/Rothschild) – this is the important one.

        The US is ruled by the ultimate corporation, the bank, the Federal Reserve and their owners. Yes, the owners of the Federal Reserve are not the United States of America nor the people thereof.

        Wake up J Timothy. The end. your end, is extremely nigh. The world always has been and always will be a shithole. Right now, the world is a shithole because of the US and its owners. The world does not need a savior until the good lord provides one. The world does not need more millions of US inflicted war casualties (always brown people who dont’ have a central bank corporation, or did you not notice the pattern yet?) We, you, are responsible. We, you, are going to pay the price.

        • DearLeaderMaobama

          Always brown people? Thought Asians were yella like your belly? Or are you only counting modern wars in your US 5 minutes hate?

      • Pacemaker4

        hehe classic portrayal… no one needs to step up…. Just the USA has to step back.

        or choose to step foreward at the proper times – like Rwanda etc.

        • J Timothy


    • To be-or not to be

      You really are an ignorant fuck and also proud of it.

  • Jon Doe

    the best part is that China is the “bad guy” for building a.. single base off of their own shore while America has its empirical army stationed all over the world. lol. I love it.

    • logicman

      The word is imperial. And the army is just one component of the military. Not all bases overseas are army.

      • Jon Doe

        grammar nazi strikes again!! and.. no one cares, military base is a military base no matter how you spin it. you dont see Chinese bases all over the planet but you do see American bases. this has nothing to do with maintaining power, right? British colonialism was for diversity, Roman empire was for the protection of the Roman people, Mongol empire was for freedom, Nazis was for the people, on and on etc do you see..? there’s always an excuse to justify military occupation. “we want your oil” ahem.. we are fighting for the peoples rights and democracy.. but while we fight for you we’ll just set up base here for your protection.. yeah they’ll believe that right? right? Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan. JUST LOOK AT THE MAP!! Coincidence..?

    • J Timothy

      Their base wasa disputed Island that they enlarged by artificial means and now they claim the entire area and all of its resources including oil drilling rights. So, u take sides with a country with 70 million dead by Mow, 10 million civilians by wwii japan, 20 million by hitler, tens of millions by stalin. All foreign countriea are good and the us is bad? Suck much from kgb propaganda troughs? Do hedgetards undrrstand basic comparisons of numbers? The us cant hold a candle to the new heros of the hedgetards, communist murderers who racked up bodycounts pushing over 100 million dissenting souls. The US cant touch that number no matter how dluded you are, it doesnt add up.

      • Jon Doe

        1. don’t vote yourself
        2. illogical fallacies
        3. typical rhetoric
        It doesn’t matter who the “badder guy” is, whether you murder 100 or 1 million you’re still a murderer, all you are doing is trying convince others how one murderer is “not that bad” compared to the other murderers. “Mao” didn’t kill his own people, 38 million people allegedly starved to death (15 million) because of drought, fertilizer and war. He sought aid from Russia and Stalin turned his back, he invested what remained towards his army and today China is number 2 in World Power and Economy when a mere 50 years ago they were all peasants. Mao made a decision to do what was best for the people of China as a whole, as any leader at that position he had no choice. Till this day people still look down on the Chinese people and couldn’t care less if they were, is, going to starve to death. (Obviously) If America is so great why didn’t they send aid to help feed all those people? Thats your illogical fallacies but in reality it is NOT America’s responsibility to do so. (They could have though but didn’t) It worked out but I vehemently disagree, I would have put my ego aside and beg the world for food but that’s me. What you are doing is justifying an imperial army (yes army as a whole, not military branches i know this) occupying foreign land. All I’m saying is don’t attack others for being fat when you are even fatter. is that easier to understand? I love being an American btw, but we are under tyrannical rule no doubt. Every word we type logged and indexed, every credit, employment, mental health, court, social everything is profiled and waiting to be used against us, sad.. but yeah China is so much different…

        • J Timothy

          1. Vote yourself down because you are dead wrong on murder by starvation. Its murder when the party leaders dine on the seed corn of farmers, who are left to eat bark and each other.
          2. You truely have daddy issues if you think the US should give aid to an enemy that its fighting in Korea and somehow you conclude between gazing at your navel and the ceiling of your moms basement that communist murder by starvation is the fault of US? blame daddy, i mean the US for the murder Chinese hostages, i mean “citizens”
          3. Mills and Bentham govern US policy not Kant.

  • DearLeaderMaobama

    The US system has clearly been twisted and fucked up but I cannot believe you stupid assholes would choose communism over the US. You all love to piss, moan, and cry about the big bad USA but without us this world would be a way bigger shithole than it already is. Everyone hates the top dog, in another decade or so that top dog will be China and you same winey bitches will be crying about them.

    • superbull

      i agree. U US haters, China/Russian loving trolls living the good life on n.america with the rule of law at your back – good luck with Chinussia running the global show. Check out Tibet, the Ukraine, Georgia for a taste of whats coming. Better yet, there’s nothing stopping u from emigrating. Have fun working for .12/hr with no benefits and the power elite blatantly fucking u every chance they get.

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