Reducing carrier numbers may be exactly the right answer though, even if it looks a little bad. You bring up China, but China needs open and free commercial navigation even more than we do; which is the underlying purpose of a navy to begin with; to insure freedom of navigation. Our current spat with Iran might have been a trigger for them as well; they see our decline as well as our building up of internal, less optimal substitutes, and they start thinking about what if, in a decade or two, a declining US decides to shut the Straits to enhance its internal advantages. As things are now, China could do nothing to stop that, leaving them completely dependent upon overland, aka Iran & Russia. I don't know about yall, but being at the mercy of Persian and Russian extortioniststraders would not leave me feeling warm and fuzzy.
China must deploy a significant navy; and they need to be competitive with US and Russian fleets within 2-3 decades.
Perhaps the source of the next Chinese bubble, and large driver of more internal demand?
Yes we are, as we are,
And so shall we remain,
Until the end.