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The U.S.-China military scorecard: forces, geography, and the evolving balance of power, 1996-2017

The U.S.-China military scorecard: forces, geography, and the evolving balance of power, 1996-2017

Heginbotham, Eric, author

"Over the past two decades, China's People's Liberation Army has transformed itself from a large but antiquated force into a capable, modern military. Its technology and operational proficiency still lag behind those of the United States, but it has rapidly narrowed the gap. Moreover, China enjoys the advantage of proximity in most plausible conflict scenarios, and geographical advantage would likely neutralize many U.S. military strengths. A sound understanding of regional military issues -- including forces, geography, and the evolving balance of power -- will be essential for establishing appropriate U.S. political and military policies in Asia. This RAND study analyzes the development of respective Chinese and U.S. military capabilities in ten categories of military operations across two scenarios, one centered on Taiwan and one on the Spratly Islands. The analysis is presented in ten scorecards that assess military capabilities as they have evolved over four snapshot years: 1996, 2003, 2010, and 2017. The results show that China is not close to catching up to the United States in terms of aggregate capabilities, but also that it does not need to catch up to challenge the United States on its immediate periphery. Furthermore, although China's ability to project power to more distant locations remains limited, its reach is growing, and in the future U.S. military dominance is likely to be challenged at greater distances from China's coast. To maintain robust defense and deterrence capabilities in an era of fiscal constraints, the United States will need to ensure that its own operational concepts, procurement, and diplomacy anticipate future developments in Chinese military capabilities."--Back cover

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English. eBooks (www). Electronic books.
Published Santa Monica, Calif. : RAND Corporation 2015

This resource is available electronically from the following locations


Statement of responsibility: Eric Heginbotham, Michael Nixon, Forrest E. Morgan, Jacob Heim, Jeff Hagen, Sheng Li, Jeffrey G. Engstrom, Martin C. Libicki, Paul DeLuca, David A. Shlapak, David R. Frelinger, Burgess Laird, Kyle Brady, Lyle J. Morris
ISBN: 0833082299, 9780833082190, 9780833082299
Note: Description based on print version record and CIP data provided by publisher and on resource viewed 9/17/2015.
Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 357-389).
Physical Description: 1 online resource (xxxix, 389 pages) : color maps and charts
Subject: China Armed Forces.; Military policy.; Strategic aspects of individual places.; military balance; Spratly Islands.; TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Military Science; China Military policy.; National security United States.; Pacific Area.; National security.; China.; Taiwan.; United States.; Spratly Islands Strategic aspects.; Armed Forces.; United States Armed Forces.; National security China.; China Strategic aspects.; HISTORY / Military / Aviation; Taiwan Strategic aspects.; National security Pacific Area.; United States Military policy.; HISTORY / Military / Other
Local note: JSTOR Books at JSTOR Open Access


  1. Introduction
  2. Different Paths: Chinese and U.S. Military Development, 1996-2017
  3. Scorecard 1: Chinese Capability to Attack Air Bases
  4. Scorecard 2: Air Campaigns Over Taiwan and the Spratly Islands
  5. Scorecard 3: U.S. Penetration of Chinese Airspace
  6. Scorecard 4: U.S. Capability to Attack Chinese Air Bases
  7. Scorecard 5: Chinese Anti-Surface Warfare
  8. Scorecard 6: U.S. Anti-Surface Warfare Capabilities Versus Chinese Naval Ships
  9. Scorecard 7: U.S. Counterspace Capabilities Versus Chinese Space Systems
  10. Scorecard 8: Chinese Counterspace Capabilities Versus U.S. Space Systems
  11. Scorecard 9: U.S. and Chinese Cyberwarfare Capabilities
  12. Scorecard 10: U.S. and Chinese Strategic Nuclear Stability
  13. The Receding Frontier of U.S. Dominance
  14. Implications and Recommendations.