China has the world's largest navy, third-largest air force - report

China's navy, known as the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), has 355 ships and submarines, with an estimated 145 major surface combatants. 

China's aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a military drill of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the western Pacific Ocean. (photo credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)
China's aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a military drill of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the western Pacific Ocean.
(photo credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)

The Chinese navy is the largest maritime force on Earth, boasting a total of 355 vessels, the US Defense Department revealed in a recent report released Wednesday. 

China's navy, known as the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), has 355 ships and submarines, with an estimated 145 major surface combatants. 

The navy is also readying its ability to carry out long-range precision strikes against land targets and enhance its anti-submarine warfare, further strengthening China's global power projection capabilities, the report noted.

And this number is only expected to grow in the future, with the Defense Department anticipating the Chinese fleet to grow to 460 ships by 2030.

In addition to the world's largest navy, China also possesses the world's largest standing army and the third-largest air force. This is in addition to the country's noted nuclear capabilities.

A RF-16 fighter jet drops flares during the live fire Han Kuang military exercise, which simulates China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) invading the island, in Pingtung, Taiwan May 30, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/TYRONE SIU)A RF-16 fighter jet drops flares during the live fire Han Kuang military exercise, which simulates China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) invading the island, in Pingtung, Taiwan May 30, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/TYRONE SIU)

The report is significant as it comes amid tensions between China and nearby Taiwan, which has long claimed independence as its own state, though this independence is denied by mainland China.

For over a year, China has made numerous incursions on Taiwanese airspace, culminating in the largest one ever on October 1. Later that month, the US and Canada sent warships into the Taiwan Strait, an act condemned by China.

On Friday, China went further in fighting against Taiwanese independence, stating that anyone who supports Taiwan's independence would be criminally liable for life. This is the first time that China has spelled out concrete punishment for people deemed to be pro-Taiwan independence.

Reuters contributed to this report.