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Who Rules the Waves? U.S. and Chinese Fleets, by Tonnage

Chris Dickert

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

Who Rules the Waves? U.S. and Chinese Fleets, by Tonnage

Who Rules the Waves? U.S. and Chinese Fleets, by Tonnage

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

China’s third aircraft carrier recently began its sea trials, and there are reports that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy already has more ships than the United States, but how do these superpower rivals stack up, ton for ton?

This graphic from Chris Dickert looks at the Chinese and U.S. navies by tonnage using data from the International Institute for Security Studies.

Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. Navy has over 3.6 million (U.S.) tons of ships in its fleet, nearly twice the size of China’s combined fleets of just over 2 million tons.
  • While China boasts the largest number of ships, 1,015 between both the PLA Navy and the Chinese Coast Guard, against the U.S. Navy’s 364, they are generally smaller and less advanced than their U.S. counterparts.
  • The Chinese Coast Guard has received many of the PLA Navy’s older ships, however the vast majority of their ships are patrol and coastal combatants that average 711 tons apiece and aren’t able to sail far from China’s coast.
  • Even as the U.S. Navy edges out the PLA Navy across almost every ship type, China does hold a 16:1 edge in tonnage of landing ships and craft, reflecting the Asian superpower’s stated policy goal of reunifying Taiwan with the mainland.
BranchShip TypeNumberTonnage (U.S. short ton)
China Coast Guard (CCG)Landing Ships29,600
China Coast Guard (CCG)Logistics and Support2720,990
China Coast Guard (CCG)Patrol and Coastal Combatants545387,371
PLA NavyLanding Crafts7821,407
PLA NavyLanding Ships50164,720
PLA NavyPrincipal Amphibious Ships11320,000
PLA NavyCorvettes14293,504
PLA NavyAircraft Carriers2137,500
PLA NavyCruisers8104,000
PLA NavyDestroyer42304,860
PLA NavyFrigates49189,190
PLA NavyStrategic Submarine12108,000
PLA NavyTactical Submarine47141,997
U.S. NavyAmphibious396,050
U.S. NavyLanding Craft14111,692
U.S. NavyPrincipal Amphibious Ships31843,580
U.S. NavyAircraft Carriers111,100,000
U.S. NavyCruisers15159,390
U.S. NavyDestroyer73619,964
U.S. NavyFrigates2477,600
U.S. NavyStrategic Submarine14262,500
U.S. NavyTactical Submarine52431,124
1,3795,605,039
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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Politics

Ranked: Countries with the Most Embassies Around the World

The Global Diplomacy Index attempts to quantify and compare diplomatic networks by ranking countries with the most embassies worldwide.

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A map of the countries with the most embassies worldwide.

Mapped: Countries with the Most Embassies Around the World

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

It’s easy to contextualize a country’s economic might (GDP) or military prowess (military budgets), but what about diplomatic influence?

The Global Diplomacy Index by the Lowy Institute is an attempt to measure and compare diplomatic networks worldwide to understand the foreign ties that influence geopolitics.

From their 2024 update, we visualize the top 25 countries with the most embassies worldwide. Data for this graphic is current up to November 2023, and does not reflect diplomatic consequences from the Israel-Hamas war.

Ranked: Countries by Worldwide Embassy Count

China leads with 173 embassies around the world, eclipsing the U.S. (168) by just five more foreign posts.

Former colonial powers, France (158) and the UK (156) rank third and fourth respectively. Japan (152) rounds out the top five.

RankCountryEmbassies Overseas
1🇨🇳 China173
2🇺🇸 U.S.168
3🇫🇷 France158
4🇬🇧 UK156
5🇯🇵 Japan152
6🇩🇪 Germany148
7🇹🇷 Türkiye145
8🇷🇺 Russia143
9🇧🇷 Brazil135
10🇮🇳 India135
11🇮🇹 Italy124
12🇪🇸 Spain114
13🇰🇷 South Korea114
14🇳🇱 Netherlands106
15🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia104
16🇨🇭 Switzerland102
17🇨🇦 Canada98
18🇿🇦 South Africa98
19🇮🇩 Indonesia92
20🇵🇱 Poland91
21🇨🇿 Czech Republic91
22🇵🇰 Pakistan89
23🇦🇷 Argentina87
24🇭🇺 Hungary87
25🇸🇪 Sweden87

Note: As of November, 2023.

The index notes some key findings in the regional footprint of all these foreign posts as well.

For example, China has a larger diplomatic presence in Africa, East Asia, and the Pacific, while the U.S. leads in the Americas, Europe, and South Asia. This reflects the two superpowers’ trade and economic ties as well.

Meanwhile, Türkiye and India have grown their diplomatic networks the most in recent years. Interestingly, both countries prioritized Africa in their new outreach. In fact, India is a key export destination for many African countries.

Russia meanwhile had to close 14 foreign missions since it invaded Ukraine in 2022, slipping two ranking spots between 2017 and 2022.

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