Used book sales are dangerous for a nerd like me. Every time I see one, I spend at least an hour browsing the stacks for interesting finds and leave with a huge stack of books, most of which I never get around to reading.

A few weeks ago at a book sale outside of the research library at UCLA, I spotted a series of softcover Chinese-language coffee table books about China’s foreign relations, put out by the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国国务院新闻办公室). I saw the one about China and Argentina and just had to pick it up. At just 25 cents, it was a steal.


This large, 133-page book of pictures was published in 2004 and primarily contains photographs of diplomatic visits and cultural exchanges. Most, like the above picture of Chinese president Jiang Zemin and Argentine president Carlos Menem shaking hands in Beijing in 1995, are pretty stiff and boring.


What was noticeably missing was mentions of Chinese emigration to Argentina. That topic (on which I’ve done a bit of research) is only mentioned twice, in a spread on Chinese-owned businesses in Buenos Aires. The book treats “China” and “Argentina” as separate entities, when in reality Chinese people have been living and thriving in Argentina for several generations now. One would think that the Chinese state would see a burgeoning Chinese population as an asset to play up in foreign policy propaganda aimed at a domestic audience, but the editors chose to play it down instead.

中华人民共和国国务院新闻办公室编 《中国—阿根廷》,北京: 五洲传播出版社,2004 年。

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