Currently, there are 60,000 to 70,000 Chinese in Argentina. Only about 15,000 to 20,000 of those reportedly identify as Taiwanese. Though the Taiwanese were the first to arrive in Argentina in the 1980s, their population has dwindled in recent years as many left, with a steep drop in numbers occurring after Argentina’s economic crisis of 2001. Meanwhile, the number of mainland Chinese immigrants has proliferated, in step with China’s growing investment in the country and the rest of Latin America.In Argentina, there are about 4,200 Chinese-run supermarkets and their numbers are growing. A 2008 statistic reported that approximately 14 new Chinese-run supermarkets open up each month.
Chinese shops and supermarkets are an equally prevalent phenomenon across Africa. Such small-scale ventures carry great developmental implications for the continent (both of them), arguably more so than do larger investment projects. While major projects generally bear most heavily on the formal sector, such supermarkets and shops span both the formal and informal sectors, with especially dire implications for informal sector workers who are unable to parry Chinese competition, and have few alternatives for employment and profit. It will certainly be fascinating to examine the varied (or parallel) ways in which similar Chinese strategies impact economic growth and development in Africa and Latin America, respectively.