It is difficult to appreciate just how fast China has been able to create a blue water navy. One way is to compare it to the other great navies of the world, as the chart below does. This comparison is not a top-to-bottom order of battle inventory in which every ship of every class is counted. Rather it is a comparison of the number of Chinese blue water warships to other nations that historically have demonstrated the ability to operate globally. The ship count totals are projected to the 2020-2021-time frame.
Sources for the chart above: DOD Annual Reports to Congress: Military and Security Developments on the PRC 2012, 2018, 2019, Janes Defense Weekly’s announcements of ship commissioning’s, IISS Strategic Balance 2018 and 2019 for all countries listed in the table, Websites for the Indian Navy, Royal Navy, French Navy, Rick Joe’s Diplomat series on the future of the PLA Navy, Ronald O’Rourke’s, semi-annual update of his Congressional Research Service report China Naval Modernization, Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) The Russian Navy 2015, and ONI’s The PLA Navy: New capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century.