Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Argentina and China: an Analysis of the Actors in the Soybean Trade and the Migratory Flow


This article explains who the actors are and how they interact in the two main issues concerning Argentinian–Chinese relations: the soybean trade and Chinese migration to Argentina. Each of the trade policies of the two states guides the soybean business and the Argentinian migration policy seeks to control the flow of Chinese immigration. However, the growing influence of the Chinese state on Argentina through Chinese state-owned companies and Chinese migrants has infiltrated the role played by the Argentinian state in Argentinian–Chinese relations. But the dominant role played by the Argentinian government in the alliance between the Argentinian government and the big export companies in the soybean trade, and the capacity of Argentina state to control the Chinese immigration flow in the face of non-state actors, both legal and clandestine, show that the government is still able to exert a significant restraining influence on these Chinese non-state actors.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    China became an economic great power in 1998 and eliminated the colonialism of the great powers in 1999 when China restored its sovereignty over Macau [30: 17].

  2. 2.

    Recent studies on the relations between China and Latin America have focused on new actors in the linkage, see, for example, Ellis [9] on the “expanding physical presence by Chinese companies” in the region. However, as Nacht [21] observed: “In most of the research on Argentinian–Chinese linkages, the researchers rarely discuss the actors involved, how they articulate their interests, or how they are supported and legitimized by consensual and coercive aspects.” From this perspective, only very few researchers, for example, Oviedo [30], Bouzas [3] and Laufer [18], have attempted to look beyond the state-centered vision. This article seeks to enrich this vision of international relations.

  3. 3.

    There are two basic types of actors: sovereign states and non-state actors. The state plays a political role, that is, the “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory” [42: 10]. Non-state actors do not play this kind of role. This is the functional difference between the different actors. Non-state actors include: a) intergovernmental international organizations (United Nations); b) non-governmental international organizations (international parties, international churches, terrorist organizations); and c) transnational corporations. In addition, there are several domestic actors, such as non-governmental organizations and private entrepreneurs that also have an impact on international issues. However, ultimately, the state seems to have a significant constraining influence on non-state actors [45: 47].

  4. 4.

    Chinese state-owned companies can be considered as non-state actors, although in a strict sense they are part of the organizational structure of the Chinese state.

  5. 5.

    The volume of Argentinian soybeans exported to China between 2008 and 2014 differed from that between 1995 and 2005 (see [19: 5]), when it increased from US$ 57.4 million in 1995 to US $ 2435.6 million in 2005. The volume of Argentinian soybeans exported to China remained stagnant or declined between 2008 and 2014, due to the fact that Argentina sold about 15 % of the unprocessed soybeans, and also that China did not purchase soy-meal and purchased less soybean oil.

  6. 6.

    On April 1, 2010, the Ministry of Commerce of China made the decision to ban imports of crude soy oil from Argentina. The Chinese government based its decision on national technical factors, but the transnational companies in Argentina produce crude soy oil according to Codex Alimentarius requirements. In fact, the ban was a retaliatory measure against the anti-dumping and non-automatic licenses, introduced by the government of Cristina Fernandez, for goods manufactured in China. One further reason for the ban was Beijing’s decision to strengthen the development of its own crushing industry in the production of soy meal and oil and to avoid foreign competition by importing more beans and fewer value-added products. The main political reason was to apply an economic sanction in response to the judicial order issued by an Argentinian judge, who has requested an international warrant for the arrest of former President Jiang Zemin on charges related to the crimes of torture and genocide committed against Falun Gong practitioners in China. Finally, the dispute can be seen as a test case that shows how tensions emerge in relations with China when the Argentinian government seeks the de-primarization of its economy, by adding value and developing the soybean crushing industry [32: 337–376].

  7. 7.

    Several factors influence the price of soybeans: 1) seasonal variations in soybean supplies; 2) soybean supply and demand conditions; 3) international market price of soybeans; 4) trade policies (producer-country policies; the policies of main consumer countries); 5) price of relative products [6: 4].

  8. 8.

    One measure that has been undertaken against this problem is the Memorandum of Understanding on the prevention of money laundering activities and the financing of terrorism that was signed by the People’s Bank of China and the Central Bank of Argentina in May 2014.


  1. 1.

    Alberdi, Juan Bautista. 2010. Bases y punto de partida para la organización política de la República Argentina. Buenos Aires: Emecé.

  2. 2.

    Benencia, Roberto. 2012. Perfil migratorio de Argentina 2012. Buenos Aires: Organización Internacional para las Migraciones.

  3. 3.

    Bouzas, Roberto. 2009. China y Argentina: Relaciones económicas bilaterales e interacciones globales. In China-Latinoamérica: una visión sobre el nuevo papel de China en la región, ed. A. Oropeza García, 283–301. Mexico: Universidad Autónoma de México.

  4. 4.

    Chamber of Supermarkets and Self-Service Restaurants Owned by Chinese Residents in Argentina (CASRECH). Website, online: http://casrech.chinasoluciones.com.ar/. Accessed 2 Jan 2015.

  5. 5.

    阿根廷华人组特警队对抗当地华人黑帮 (Chinese organizes special police forces against the local Chinese mafia in Argentina), in Sohu New, 21 September 2014, online: http://news.sohu.com/20140921/n404499312.shtml. Accessed 2 Jan 2015.

  6. 6.

    Dalian Commodity Exchange. 2010. Soybean futures trading manual. Dalian: Dalian Commodity Exchange.

  7. 7.

    Dinatale, Martín. 2015. La Cancillería realizó 220 sumarios internos y la mayoría fue por robo, in Diario La Nación, Buenos Aires, April 6, 2015 http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1781960-la-cancilleria-realizo-220-sumarios-internos-y-la-mayoria-fue-por-robos. Accessed 8 April 2014.

  8. 8.

    Duchătel, Mathieu, Oliver Bräuner, and Hang Zhou. 2014. Protecting China’s overseas interests. Policy paper No. 41. Sweden: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

  9. 9.

    Evan Ellis, E. 2014. China on the ground in Latin America: Challenges for the Chinese and impacts on the region. New York: Palgrave Macmillian.

  10. 10.

    Federación Argentina de Empleados de Comercio y Servicios (FAECYS). 2011. Relevamiento sobre supermercados en Argentina, Buenos Aires: FAECYS. June 2011. http://www.faecys.org.ar/Informe_Supermercados.pdf. Accessed 10 Oct 2014.

  11. 11.

    Feng, Mengyun. 2010. From the immigration to Argentina see Chinese underworld. 从移民阿根廷看中国黑道 South American Style, 南美风情 5 November 2011, online: http://blog.voc.com.cn/blog_showone_type_blog_id_662255_p_1.html. Accessed 15 Oct 2014.

  12. 12.

    Feng, Junyang and Song, Jieyun. 2011. 阿根廷华人超市数量超过1万家 (Number of Chinese supermarkets in Argentina more than 10,000). Xinhua News Agency, 6 August 2011, online: http://news.xinhuanet.com/world/2011-08/06/c_121821752.htm. Accessed 5 Jan 2015.

  13. 13.

    Festejos por el año nuevo chino, in Crónica, Buenos Aires, 10 February 2015.

  14. 14.

    Gallo, Daniel. 2014. La migración china en la mira, in Diario La Nación, Buenos Aires, September 2, 2014.

  15. 15.

    Head of the Cabinet of Ministers of Argentina. 2014. Report of the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers to the Honorable Senate of the Nation, Buenos Aires, August 2014.

  16. 16.

    International Organization for Migration - IOM. 2013. World migration report 2013. Geneva: IOM.

  17. 17.

    Joint Action Plan between the Government of the Argentine Republic and the Government of People’s Republic of China. Buenos Aires, July 18, 2014.

  18. 18.

    Laufer, Rubén. 2011. China: ¿Nuestra Gran Bretaña del Siglo XXI? Nuevo. Socio privilegiado de poderosos sectores de las clases dirigentes argentinas. Revista La Marea, number 35, Buenos Aires: La Marea.

  19. 19.

    López, Andrés, Daniela Ramos, and Gabriela Starobinsky. 2010. A study of the impact of China’s global expansion on Argentina: Soybean value chain analysis, Cuadernos de Trabajos del Cechimex, No. 2. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

  20. 20.

    Murphy, Sophia, Burch David, and Jennifer Clapp. 2012. Cereal secrets: The world’s largest commodity traders and global trends in agriculture. Oxford: Oxfam Research Reports.

  21. 21.

    Nacht, Pablo. 2015. La vinculación entre la República Popular China y la República Argentina (1991–2010). Un análisis de los actores intervinientes. Doctoral thesis. Buenos Aires: FLACSO.

  22. 22.

    Najenson, Janie Hulse. 2011. China in Argentina: A Belated Debut, in Americas Quaterly, 16 November 2011, online: http://www.americasquarterly.org/taxonomy/term/2490. Accessed 25 Oct 2014.

  23. 23.

    National Directorate of Migration. 2014a. Síntesis Estadísticas de Radicaciones. Informe especial del Período Enero–Diciembre de 2013.

  24. 24.

    National Directorate of Migration. 2014b. Estadísticas de expulsiones. Informe actualizado a mayo de 2014.

  25. 25.

    National Directorate of Migration. 2014c. Estadísticas de Permisos de Ingreso. Periodo 204–2013.

  26. 26.

    National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina. 2007–2014. INDEC Informa. Buenos Aires: INDEC.

  27. 27.

    National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina. 2010. Censo Nacional de Población, Hogares y Viviendas 2010. Buenos Aires: INDEC.

  28. 28.

    National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina. 2013. Comercio Exterior Argentino 2012. Buenos Aires: INDEC.

  29. 29.

    Nuevo escándalo en Cancillería por venta de visas. In Diario Perfil, Buenos Aires, 3 January 2009, online: http://www.perfil.com/politica/Nuevo-escandalo-en-Cancilleria-por-venta-de-visas-20090103-0010.html. Accessed 20 Nov 2014.

  30. 30.

    Oviedo, Eduardo Daniel. 2005. China en Expansión. Córdoba: EDUCC.

  31. 31.

    Oviedo, Eduardo Daniel. 2010. Historia de las Relaciones Internacionales entre Argentina y China. Buenos Aires: Dunken.

  32. 32.

    Oviedo, Eduardo Daniel. 2012. Argentina y China: Causas de la disputa en torno al aceite de soja. Estudios de Asia y África XLVII(148): 337–376.

  33. 33.

    Rosario Board of Trade. 2013. Institutional overview. Rosario: BCR.

  34. 34.

    Sainz, Gustavo, Los súper chinos pasaron la barrera de los 10.000 locales, in La Nación, Buenos Aires, August 5, 2011, online: http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1395044-los-super-chinos-pasaron-la-barrera-de-los-10000-locales. Accessed 5 Nov 2014.

  35. 35.

    Sánchez, Gonzalo. 2010. La comunidad china en el país se duplicó en los últimos 5 años. In Diario Clarín, Buenos Aires, November 27, 2010.

  36. 36.

    Sina. 2014. 中粮确认收购Nidera及来宝农业共斥资28亿美元 Cofco confirmed that invested a total of $ 2.800 million dollars to buy Nidera and Noble Agriculture. 2 April 2014, online: http://finance.sina.com.cn/chanjing/gsnews/20140402/163818692835.shtml. Accessed 5 Nov 2014.

  37. 37.

    Soybean Chain Association (ACSOJA), Website, http://www.acsoja.org.ar. Accessed 15 March 2015.

  38. 38.

    Tang Fengwang. 2011. 挑战与回应:阿根廷华人超市行业现状研究 (Challenge and Response: Present Situation of Chinese supermarket industry in Argentina). In Overseas Chinese Journal of Bagui, December 2011, nro. 4, 25–30.

  39. 39.

    van Gelder, Jan Willem, and Jan Maarten Dros. 2002. Corporate actors in the South American soy production chain. Amsterdam: World Wide Fund for Nature Switzerland.

  40. 40.

    Vicat, Luis. 2012. Mafia china/Final anunciado pero no notificado, in Informe Reservado, 6 April 2012, online: http://informereservado.net/noticia.php?noticia=39732. Accessed 5 Nov 2014.

  41. 41.

    Wang, Huiyao. 2014. 2014 中国国际移民报告 annual report on Chinese international migration 2014. Beijing: Social Science Academic Press.

  42. 42.

    Weber, Max. 1985. Ensayos de sociología contemporánea. Buenos Aires: Planeta-Agostini.

  43. 43.

    Wurgaft, Ramy. 2008. El negocio de los visados a 10.000 euros. El Mundo, Madrid, February 18, 2008, online: http://www.elmundo.es/papel/2008/02/18/indice.html. Accessed 17 Oct 2014.

  44. 44.

    Xinhua News Agency. 2013. 阿根廷华人黑帮侵害华侨华人。震动中国高层 Argentinian Chinese gangs against overseas Chinese and ethnic Chinese. China’s top shock. 28 Febraury 2013, online: http://news.ifeng.com/world/detail_2013_02/28/22593348_0.shtml. Accessed 18 Oct 2014.

  45. 45.

    Zhang, Jiliang. 1990. 国际关系学概论 introduction to the science of international relations. Shijie Zhishi Chubanshe: Beijing.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Eduardo Daniel Oviedo.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Oviedo, E.D. Argentina and China: an Analysis of the Actors in the Soybean Trade and the Migratory Flow. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 20, 243–266 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11366-015-9360-4

Download citation


  • Trade Policy
  • Soybean
  • International Actors
  • Argentinian Foreign Policy
  • Chinese Migration