The former Australian aircraft carrier had been sold for scrap. But it proved a source of valuable technical intelligence for an ambitious Chinese military. China surprised the world again with the unveiling of its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, in 2012. It had been bought from Ukraine in 1998. It was supposed to have been turned into a casino. Instead, it emerged as a fully armed and operational warship. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been experimenting with it ever since, developing a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of carrier warfare.