It is official that the Chinese fleet has caught up and exceeded the Japanese navy, though, despite the numerical superiority, there are other reasons why numbers are not enough.
China has been building up a navy to one day rule Asia, but numbers will not be the prime factor according to a report by Forbes.
In a nutshell, the Chinese may have more ships and missiles that can be pointed to any opposing force in Asia, but there are things to consider before thinking the Chinese have the upper hand in the last twenty years.
Shifting sea power to China
According to report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments,Toshi Yoshihara is connected to Washington, China's ascension as the most powerful Asian navy will affect Japan's place in the Western Pacific Ocean, which will cause changes in US strategy in dealing with China.
He added the shifting of power in Asia based on several charts that takes into account the factors which are involved. Showing that in the later 1990s, there was a ballooning economy that allowed more expenditures to improve their armed forces.
Compared to the economic boom of China, Japan's own was not as expansive which mean conservative expenses for their military forces.
So, in total, the forces of Japan from the 90s to 2020 that included frigates, destroyers, corvettes, cruiser, with helicopter carriers were from 64 to 51 surface ships in all.
The Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) rely on smaller vessels which are not insurance according to analysis. Smaller Chinese warships than Japanese ship are better in sea combat and can stay at sea in longer durations.
What the Chinese lack in sheer size and firepower is compensated with more missiles, than the Japanese navy. The vertical launch systems or VLS will be the firepower that it can bear down.
The PLAN has heavily invested in beyond visual range (BVR) to engage ships, but their ship to ship is one of their greatest concerns.
If Japan could afford to be lax before, not now, Yoshihara said. Addressing the imbalance means Japan will be fiercer in not allowing any more lapses. So, it will begin a naval arms race to counter China, there will be increased tensions as Japan assumes a tougher stance to push back the PLAN. There is no way that Japan will allow China to get an advantage in the pacific theatre, The New Yorker reports.
An obvious surprise in any discussion is will the US sit back in a China-Japan conflict. The US Navy will most certainly bear its guns on the PLAN, which they do not want to happen. As an alliance, the US and Japan will give China an all-out engagement in the Pacific.
The firepower of China is 3,300 missiles that outstrips Japan to more than half which is 1,600 in total, but the US can attack with 10,000 missiles. Not all are from the US Fleet, 2/3 are American, but a Washington-Tokyo team-up can pound the PLAN with 7,600 missiles, to 3,300 of China's. This assures China that its PLAN will have to wise up, or even reconsider its plans before doing anything.
Yoshihara reported that Beijing sees Japan as an ageing power, but fears it still and the Japanese have US backing and other resources which China lacks. The Diplomat said that the thought of the US-Japan military alliance which brings power and influence can be significant, and cannot be overlooked.
Japan is an important US ally that expands the power and influence of the US in the Western Pacific, that China is loath to test. Both allies are where the freedom of Asia, stands or falls. The Chinese navy is top in Asia but the US is their stumbling block.