China makes more steel in one year than Britain produced since the industrial revolution. They could (in fantasy world theory) rebuild a facsimile post-Ironclad Royal Navy of every ship the RN has ever built since the late 1800s in one year.China is building more large warships in a year than the entire fleet of UK.
China have had the advantage of centralised design, they are told what to design and they go off and do it. They know what a peer Navy like the USN looks like and they have set out to copy it. They are probably still thinking in terms of 1970s-90s terms of strict class descriptions and sizes; cruiser - destroyer - frigate. It doesn't matter what you call a ship, what matters is what its designed for and what armament and sensors it carries. A modern networked frigate with suitable missile capacity is probably far more powerful than the missile destroyers of 30-40 years ago.
The Chinese have been studying aircraft carriers since the 1970s and since they got their hands on the old Melbourne, but its been a long process. They probably know the technical details as well as any Navy but its how they actually put them into use that matters. A lot of speculations in the 1980s about how the Soviets might use their carrier fleet proved to be wide of the mark and those speculations now seem to have been transferred to the Chinese (i.e. power projection using overseas client bases), whether the Chinese will adopt Russian or US doctrine remains to be seen.
This post is amazing, really. First two lines are just mind blowing. I have a soft spot for RN pre-dread, Dreadnoughts, super-dreadnought, battlecruisers... gosh, how many were build, 1890-1945 ? 150 ?
Incidentally they also tried to bought old clemenceau from France back in '96. we said "forget it". Undaunted, they just shrugged off and updated their "carrier shopping list". My favorite part is how they bought one old Soviet carrier after another, three Kievs in a row, to turn them into touristic attractions - supposedly.
The funny thing is that the Chinese made a collection of Kievs yet picked the Kuznetsov sistership as basis for Lianoning, while India bought the last Kiev left by the Chinese... and it was them that turned it into a modern carrier. this is so bizarre.
And imagine if the Russians had build an Ullyanovsk ! Although there are rumors the Chinese got the blueprints of this one, too...