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Type 56s are still in production by Norinco for export customers.
During the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, many Chinese Type 56 rifles were supplied to Afghan Mujahideen guerrillas to fight Soviet forces by the China, Pakistan and the US who obtained them from third party arms dealers.
Chinese support for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam before the mid-1960s meant that the Type 56 was frequently encountered by American soldiers in the hands of either Vietcong guerrillas or PAVN soldiers during the Vietnam war.
The Type 56 was discovered in enemy hands far more often than standard Russian-made AK-47s or AKMs.
In 1987, Michael Ryan used a legally owned Type 56 rifle, and two other firearms, in the Hungerford massacre in the United Kingdom, in which he shot 32 people, 17 of whom died.