Liaoning (16; Chinese: 辽宁舰; pinyin: Liáoníng Jiàn) is the first aircraft carrier commissioned into the People's Liberation Army Navy Surface Force. It is classified as a training ship, intended to allow the Navy to practice with carrier usage.
Originally laid down as the Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier Riga for the Soviet Navy, she was launched on December 4, 1988, and renamed Varyag in 1990. The stripped hulk was purchased in 1998 by the People's Republic of China and towed to Dalian shipyard in northeast China. After being completely rebuilt and undergoing sea trials, the ship was commissioned into the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) as Liaoning with the class name Type 001 on September 25, 2012. In November 2016, the political commissar of the Liaoning, Senior Captain Li Dongyou, stated that the Liaoning was combat ready. 
The ship was laid down as Riga at Shipyard 444 (now Mykolaiv South) in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on December 6, 1985. Design work was undertaken by the Nevskoye Planning and Design Bureau. Launched on December 4, 1988, the carrier was renamed Varyag in late 1990, after the famous cruiser.
Construction ceased by 1992, with the ship structurally complete but without electronics. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, ownership was transferred to Ukraine; the ship was laid up, unmaintained. Ukraine immediately began searching for possible customers, and made overtures to China, which sent a high-level expert delegation in 1992. Although the delegation made a positive report on the condition of the ship, recommending a purchase, the Beijing leadership declined because of the international diplomatic situation at the time. Nevertheless, the People's Liberation Army Navy did not lose interest, and four years later took an independent initiative for a commercial purchase.
In April 1998, Ukrainian Trade Minister Roman Shpek announced the winning bid of US$20 million from Chong Lot Travel Agency, a Hong Kong-based company, which proposed to tow Varyag out of the Black Sea, through the Suez Canal and around southern Asia to Macau, where the ship would be moored and converted into a floating hotel and casino, similar to the Kiev in Tianjin and Minsk at Minsk World in Shenzhen. Before the auction was closed, officials in Macau had warned Chong Lot that it would not be permitted to berth Varyag in the harbor. Chong Lot is owned by Chin Luck Holdings Company of Hong Kong. The sale of the carrier was successfully closed in 1998.