Both of mine are realy accurate . Maybe the barrel length works well with the wolf and chinese loads . I like them very much even if they are not true military versions . I also read others threads saying theirs were very nice shooters too.
I would bet most were done in china, at the time the price difference wasn't great enough to warrant some US worker doing all the work required, many have a special shortened gas system unique to some versions of the Para model, and lastly I was at a few distributors during this time frame and the para's were arriving and packed just like the original std models. I am sure quite a few were done here as well.
While it's been more-than-a-few years ago now, I recall seeing photos in "National Geographic" magazine of Mongolian tribesmen on their ponies armed with what appeared to be shortened Type 56 carbines. They were said to have been members of some sort of paramilitary "Frontier Police", although they wore no uniforms that I remember. Their main jobs were said to be protecting their collective's flocks from two and four-legged predators and apprehending "bandits", smugglers, and "unauthorized" tourists.
They looked to be set up with the old style sling loops on the left side of the butt stock for comfort and ease of cross-shoulder carry on those tiny horses, too.
While the PRC's political bosses and the PLA might be loathe to provide what are still essentially nomadic herders of questionable political reliability with weaponry on a par with the 'regulars', reusing perfectly functional second-tier stuff, suitably modified for mounted use by small-statured people makes sense.
I also recall seeing and handling an captured Chinese SKS after a little dust-up on the Bassac River in early 1968 which was select-fire and used AK magazines. It was obviously an arsenal-made item rather than a field or depot mod, but I don't recall seeing another and have no idea what exactly it might've been.
The Chinese regional PLA commanders who pretty much control the arms production for domestic military needs and the export market are great believers in squeezing every last bit of return out of any investment, and they don't seem to upgrade production facilities or scrap machine tooling until it's entirely useless.
My own opinion is that there really wasn't much in the way of "new product development" involved here. I have no doubt that when Navy Arms et al were shown a catalog of the variations that Norinco could offer, the 'shorties' and the AK mag models were all ready there.
Wherever and however it was done, my Norinco SKS-P is one of the most pleasant rifles to shoot, and surprisingly accurate for a 16" chrome-lined carbine. 3" groups at 100yds with the iron sights and mil-spec ammo are not uncommon.