China, Russia and the U.S. are the top three conventionally military powerful countries in the world out of 126 countries, according to the Global Firepower (GFP) database.
At the same time, China, Russia and the U.S. are the world’s leading arms exporters, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
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The GFP ranking is based on counting the total amount of weapons a country has, its reliance on natural resources, the state of the country’s economy, military budget, geography and more than 50 other factors.
It must also be noted that land-locked countries don’t get less points for not having a standing navy, while countries with naval forces get less points if they don’t pay enough attention to their naval capabilities.
The GFP ranking also does not take into account a country’s nuclear capabilities nor the peculiarities of its current political or military leaders.
“In the end, we hope [the GFP ranking] presents an unbiased outlook on the potential conventional military strength of a given country if only to stir some healthy debate,” the Global Firepower said on its website.
The top 10 of the GFP ranking also includes such countries as India, the United Kingdom, France, South Korea, Germany, Japan and Turkey.
Nuclear capabilities of China, Russia and U.S.
In order to see the whole military picture, we must refer to nuclear capabilities of Beijing, Moscow and Washington.
The official nuclear-weapon states (NWS) are – China, Russia, the United States, France and the United Kingdom. All five countries are officially recognized as possessing nuclear weapons by the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
Even though the NPT legitimizes these five countries’ nuclear arsenals, it prohibits them from developing new nuclear weapons as well as maintaining such weapons for a long time.
What we’re particularly interested is the state of nuclear power of China, Russia and the U.S.
Chinese and Russian nuclear capabilities combined are deadly
China has about 250 total nuclear warheads. However, it’s important to note that even though the number seems insignificant, China still presents huge challenge to the U.S. due to its advanced technology. We will look into that later in the article.
Russia, for its part, has 1,582 strategic warheads deployed on 515 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers, according to the March 2015 New START numbers.
Meanwhile, the Federation of American Scientists concluded that Russia possesses a few thousand non-deployed nuclear strategic warheads and nearly 2,000 tactical nuclear warheads. On top of that, additional 3,200 are awaiting dismantlement.
The United States possesses 1,597 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 785 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers, according to the March 2015 New START numbers.
The Federation of American Scientists concluded that the U.S. has nearly 2,800 warheads in its non-deployed strategic arsenal as well as 500 warheads in the U.S. tactical nuclear arsenal.
The United States possessed as many as 4,717 active nuclear warheads as of September 30, 2014, according to the U.S. State Department. Other warheads are retired and are awaiting dismantlement.
Nuclear threats from Syria, North Korea, Iran and Pakistan
Since the signing of the NPT, a few countries have complied with the treaty, while others are stubborn to respect it. For example, Pakistan, India and Israel have never signed the treaty and all three of them have nuclear arsenals.
Iraq launched a classified nuclear program under Saddam Hussein before the Persian Gulf War in 1991. North Korea withdrew from the NPT in January 2003 under Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un. The country has conducted numerous nuclear tests ever since.
Iran and Libya have also launched secret nuclear programs, while Syria under the president Bashar al-Assad is suspected of doing the same.
China, Pakistan and India are all reportedly developing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. What’s especially alarming is that the relations between China and Pakistan have seen warmth recently, which is why if they combine their nuclear efforts, the world will most likely face a new political order.
Last month, ValueWalk reported that there are indications of the emergence of the world’s new superpower axis between China, Russia and Pakistan. If such a superpower axis is created, the world will turn into a bipolar world with China, Russia, Pakistan and a number of other authoritarian countries of Central Asia on one side, and the U.S., EU, Japan and their Asian allies on the other side.
Pakistan has been developing tactical nuclear weapons to counter what it believes to be Indian conventional military threats, while North Korea continues developing its nuclear programs. Although their arsenals are not as significant as those of Russia and China, they are still a destabilizing global threat.
Chinese military challenges to the U.S.
Despite the fact that the direct rival of the U.S. in terms of nuclear military capabilities is Russia, China poses a no less significant threat in terms of its military capabilities.
Take China’s space systems, for example. Beijing has been developing such systems in order to leave the U.S. deaf and blind in space. Or China’s sea mines. Sea mines can become a weapon of Beijing that will allow it to carry out operations to cut U.S. access to certain naval areas.
American mine sweepers face great difficulties, since China is capable of planting minefields with the help of submarines and naval aircraft.
China’s special forces are considered to be a threat to U.S. Armed Forces as well. Special forces are present in every unit of China’s armed forces. Even though there isn’t much information about China’s special forces, military analysts believe that in case of a military confrontation between Beijing and Washington, special forces would be ordered to fight against U.S. troops located in Eastern Asia, in Vietnam and Philippines in particular.