The military force of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is the largest standing army in the world. However, the United States maintains the highest military expenditure in the world. How can Americans evaluate which military is bigger, the U.S. or Chinese? 

In an interview conducted on April 15, 2024, Isaac Kardon discusses the comparative capabilities of the PLA and U.S. militaries, and how strategists evaluate the threat the PLA holds towards American territories. 

U.S.-China Counterpoints explores common perspectives on the U.S.-China relationship held by those in both countries. Guided by leading experts, this series examines the facts behind common viewpoints, and the details that shape U.S.-China relations behind the headlines. 

Isaac Kardon

Isaac B. Kardon is a senior fellow for China studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Prior to joining the Carnegie Asia program in 2023, Dr. Kardon was an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval War College from 2016 to 2022; he was a core member of the College’s China Maritime Studies Institute. He studies Chinese foreign and security policy, specializing in maritime disputes, port development, overseas military basing, and China-Pakistan relations. His writing has appeared in International Security, Security Studies, Foreign Affairs, and the Naval War College Review. He also recently wrote the book China’s Law of the Sea: The New Rules of Maritime Order. 

Dr. Kardon earned his Ph.D. in government from Cornell University, an MPhil in modern Chinese studies from Oxford University, and a B.A. in history from Dartmouth College. He is a fellow in the National Committee’s Public Intellectuals Program and a participant in the Committee’s Track II Dialogue on Maritime Affairs and International Law