India & China: how the nuclear giants stack up in military might

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The standoff between Indian and Chinese armies along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Eastern Ladakh region has the potential to escalate into something serious. The border discord between the two Asian nuclear giants took a deadly turn when both sides lost many of their men to a scuffle that broke out on Monday evening.

While the armies of both the nations have disengaged, the situation still remains tense. With diplomatic channels and lines of dialogue still open, chances of a full-fledged war are minimal. The economic and human cost of a war also acts as a deterrent to further escalation.

Here is comparing the known military might of India and China:

World Rankings

In the 2020 Global Firepower military strength rankings, China stands at number 3 out of 138 nations considered for this ranking. India is at number 4. The United States is at number 1, followed by Russia in the second spot.


China has 2.69 million total military personnel compared to India’s 3.5 million. China has 2.1 million troops employed in active military personnel as against India’s 1.4 million.

Defence Budget

According to the Manohar Parrikar Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, India’s defence budget as on 2020-21 stood at US$ 66.9 billion, while China’s defence budget is nearly three times that of India. It stands at US$ 178 billion.

Nuclear Arsenal

India enriched its nuclear arsenal by adding 10 more weapons to the stockpile over the last year, but the country possesses fewer number of warheads than China, according to a report released by a leading Swedish think-tank on June 15.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) states in its report that both India and China increased their nuclear arsenals in 2019. While China has a total of 320 warheads in its arsenal, India is estimated to have 150 weapons.

Air Power

Source - Global Firepower
Source - Global Firepower

Land Forces

Source - Global Firepower
Source - Global Firepower

Naval Forces

Source - Global Firepower
Source - Global Firepower

Sources: Global Firepower, PTI