Chinese Agrarian Capitalism in the Russian Far East

18 May 2015

Since the liberalization of the Sino-Soviet border, Chinese peasants, migrants, and investors have been actively engaged in agriculture in the Russian Far East (RFE). These range from agricultural laborers contracted by labor-exporting firms, to farmers who have set up their own small and medium-sized farms.

In the last decade and a half, Chinese presence on Russian rural land has expanded to include agribusinesses and capital-rich investors that have seized on profit-making opportunities, and who cultivate Russia’s comparatively cheap and abundant arable land on a much larger scale.

With the use of wage labor and other capitalized factor inputs, the occurrence of economic differentiation among producers, and strongly commercial drivers, Chinese agriculture in the RFE stands in stark contrast to agriculture in China itself, where institutional and structural constraints still limit the development of full-blown capitalist agriculture.

This paper presents a journalistic view of Chinese agrarian capitalism as it exists in the RFE, with a focus on Chinese actors and social relations of production. It lays groundwork for more extensive research of Chinese agriculture in Russia, which in academic and policy circles has not yet been studied as its own separate topic.