So it seems that the PRC had a Kiev-class carrier cruiser for ages. In fact, two of them -- the Minsk and the Kiev itself.
The Russkies sold the Minsk to the PRC in 1995 and the Kiev in 1996. Both times as derelict museum pieces.
The PRC without doubt studied the Kiev-class but never attempted to convert them into something usable so they stayed as theme parks.
Instead they went subterfuge and got the Varyag in 1998 supposedly as a casino which became their first carrier.
The chinis, even with two Kiev-class vessels already in hand, decided that the design was a POS and left them as tourist attractions.
Of course in 2004, the Russians "gave" us the Gorshkov for $2.8B. And here we are.
Just think, we could have went after the Varyag when the chinis were aquiring the Kievs. It would have locked the PRC into an inferior design or maybe without the Varyag the PRC might never have launched a carrier program.
Hindsight is 20/20, I know. But still I wonder if we ever considered the Varyag and missed out on a strategic opportunity.
Chinese men break into ex-Soviet aircraft carrier to take selfies
Stunt involved men swimming 500 metres in the Yangtze River to get to the Minsk, according to news website
He HuifengHe Huifeng
UPDATED : Friday, 21 Jul 2017, 1:32PM
Eight men broke into a former Russian aircraft carrier after swimming in the Yangtze River because they wanted to take a look inside before it opens as a tourist attraction in eastern China, according to a news website report.
A total of four Kiev-class carriers were built and commissioned, serving in the Soviet and then Russian Navy. The first two ships were sold to China as museums, and the third ship was scrapped. The fourth ship, Admiral Gorshkov, was sold to the Indian Navy in 2004, and after years of extensive modifications and refurbishment, is currently in active service as INS Vikramaditya.