From Wikipedia -

Regime change is the forcible or coerced replacement of one government regime with another. Regime change may replace all or part of the state's most critical leadership system, administrative apparatus, or bureaucracy.

Did China ever try to change regimes in any country successfully or unsuccessfully?

  • Note that the examples in the Wikipedia link that you provided for the United States include several examples of regime change that were also annexations, including the aforementioned example of Hawai'i, along with Texas, California, and American Samoa.
    – Obie 2.0
    Apr 15, 2022 at 21:51
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    Be that as it may, the list is correct. Regime change, as typically defined, is a component of most if not all annexations. Obviously your question can use a more specific definition instead....
    – Obie 2.0
    Apr 15, 2022 at 21:54
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    Should be on History.SE.
    – Allure
    Apr 16, 2022 at 0:09
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    @Allure The People's Republic of China actively claims that they have never tried to engage in regime change.
    – Davidw
    Apr 16, 2022 at 6:02
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    @Davidw it's still a question about the history of the PRC and so should be on the History SE.
    – Allure
    Apr 16, 2022 at 6:47

4 Answers 4


Just the most obvious ones:

  • China openly fought on North Korea's side. NK tried to conquer all of Korea, so arguably do a "regime change" in the South. (I don't know if they supported the initial NK attack though, with logistics. There is a [now declassified] 1949 Soviet cable that China was willing to send troops even then, with somewhat amusing/frank talk like "we can through a few Chinese soldiers over to you; they are all black-[haired], no one will make them out, added Mao Zedong". Another telegram of 1950 from Stalin to Mao ostensibly left the date of the attack ["reunification"] to be decided by the Chinese and North Koreans together.)

  • China supported Pol Pot who carried out a revolution in Cambodia.

  • China supported the Viet Minh against the French (so "regime change" in the North of Vietnam), but fearing a repeat of Korea, tried to dissuade the Vietnamese from the Soviet inspired tactics like the Tet offensive in the South.

  • China had a good cooperation in Laos with the North Vietnamese, both supporting the Pathet Lao armed struggle until 1968 or so, when the Sino-Soviet split made Laos more of a Vietnamese thing.

According to Lovell's book Maoism, China sponsored at least with training in insurgency some 20,000 people in no less than 19 African revolutionary movements, at a cost of some $170 to $220 million over 20 years (this data is based on a Chinese source), the most notable in terms of success these movements being ZANU in Zimbabwe.

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    With the Korean War, China joined well after NK was pushed out of the South and the reasons for joining the war were defensive, so I don’t think it qualifies as regime change.
    – H Huang
    Apr 16, 2022 at 6:05
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    @HHuang: Possibly. But while I know for a fact that China (unlike the USSR) dissuaded the Tet offensive, which is why didn't say anything about Vietnam (although I probably should, since they supported the Viet Minh against the French), it's not clear to me China didn't logistically support the NK initial attack. Apr 16, 2022 at 12:06

China conquered and changed the regime in Tibet in 1950.

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    It is doubtful whether Tibet qualified as a country at the time of the PLA occupation in 1950. It had received very limited international recognition since the Xinhai revolution, probably only from Mongolia, arguably from the United Kingdom when it signed the Simla Accord. If you are willing to accept Tibet as an answer, then Mengkukuo, Manchukuo and the various territories controlled by warlords such as Yan Xishan would also be valid examples. Apr 15, 2022 at 23:23
  • @CharlieEvans it doesn't have to be a country for someone to conquer it. China has certainly used the world's unwillingness to accept Tibet et al as answer (to paraphrase you) in spreading their expansive view of what constitutes China.
    – tobi_s
    Apr 17, 2022 at 2:13
  • @tobi_s Indeed, but the title of the question is "Did China ever try to change regimes in any country" and in the body of the question "Did China ever try to change regimes in any country successfully or unsuccessfully?" (emphasis mine) so I stand by pointing out that the example given in this answer probably wasn't a country. Apr 17, 2022 at 10:42
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    @CharlieEvans yeah, I was trying to emphasize that using a definition of "country" as "an entity recognized internationally as a country" would be a very limited way of interpreting this question. After all, the PRC itself wasn't recognized as a country before 1971 (and Taiwan would be up for the taking since then).
    – tobi_s
    Apr 18, 2022 at 4:45
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    @CharlieEvans You're assuming that the OP was choosing their words so carefully that they considered the distinction between countries and other entities. It's likely that they assumed anything with a regime that could be changed would necessarily be a country.
    – Barmar
    Apr 21, 2022 at 19:29

This of course depends on what you mean by "China", "try", "regime change", and "country". The CCP successfully engaged in a regime change of mainland China. This regime change included regions that arguably have distinct national identity, such as Tibet, Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang. They supported the successful regime change of Korea from part of the Japanese empire, and supported the attempted regime change of South Korea to being ruled by the communist North. They supported the successful regime change of Vietnam from the Republic of Vietnam, and the successful regime change of Cambodia, which led to the unsuccessful attempt of regime change (or, at least, attack on) communist Vietnam. They annexed Hong Kong, and arguably have abrogated their agreement regarding its autonomy. They have been trying for decades to effect regime change of Taiwan.


This might be stretching the definition of "regime change" and "country" *, but China has clearly engaged in coercive methods to install just exactly the government it wants in Hong Kong and this has been getting more pronounced over time.

Dissent is not tolerated and candidates for the "elections" need to be Beijing-approved.

While it is tempting to look at the US's, and Russia's, activities in this domain, China has been very far from benign, as other answers have also detailed.

* the original promise was "one country/two systems". The second part certainly has not been delivered on.

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    More or less by its own admission, this answer doesn't actually answer the question. Hong Kong is not, and has never been, a country and the influence that the Chinese central government has exerted on Hong Kong does not meet the threshold for "regime change", as that term is commonly understood. Finally, contrary to the assertion in this answer, there clearly are "two systems", even if many people are dissatisfied with the system in Hong Kong. Apr 16, 2022 at 20:28
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    Hong Kong is not a country by any definition and the comment about US and Russia is totally irrelevant.
    – qwr
    Apr 18, 2022 at 1:42
  • Hong Kong is part of China, so you could say this is China imposing regime change on itself.
    – Allure
    Apr 18, 2022 at 3:17

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