After seeing ships of the British fleet at Portsmouth and Plymouth when he was a boy, Kaiser Wilhelm II decided that he wanted to build such a fleet for Germany, and embarked on a "building spree [which] took Germany from the sixth largest navy in the world to number two," Miles writes in an article for Foreign Policy magazine.
Quoting a report by the Center for Naval Analysis, FP highlights that by 2020 China "will be the second most capable 'far seas' Navy in the world."
Building up its military will help to deter the prospect of conflict over Taiwan, writes Miles, as well as enable China to take part in international naval exercises and security missions around the globe.
In contrast, the US navy has shrunk during the same period; after having almost 600 ships in 1989, George W. Bush inherited 316 ships, but the Obama administration now has just 270,"the smallest navy since 1916."
In addition, China has commissioned two modern Shang-class nuclear-attack submarines, and another four improved Shang-class boats are expected. Eight modern destroyers were also commissioned between 2004 and 2015, equipped with surface to air missiles with ranges of 100 km or more.
"As late as 2003, only about 14 percent of its destroyers and 24 percent of its frigates might have been considered modern – capable of defensive and offensive operations against a capable enemy. By 2015, those figures had risen to 65 percent and 69 percent, respectively," writes the report.