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AMERICA'S ECONOMIC FUTURE IN THE FAR EAST.
'WESTWARD the course of empire takes its way" is a saying frequently quoted by statesmen and economists. With this sentence in mind, I have closely followed the progress of Western nations. When Asiatic commerce began, the Mediterranean, largely through the efforts of Italians, had become the centre of the world's commercial activity. With the discovery of America, the scene of this activity was gradually shifted to the Atlantic; and the nations bordering upon or near that ocean such as Portugal, Spain, France, England, and Holland - took the lead in international trade, all sending their vessels laden with manufactured goods to the newly discovered continent. Thus, with the advent of the sixteenth century, the Atlantic gradually became the arena of the world's commerce.
The territory visited by trading-vessels became more and more extensive, and, within the last hundred years, Atlantic commerce endeavored to find an outlet to the Pacific. But here a formidable obstacle was presented by two vast continents extending in an unbroken chain from the Arctic almost to the Antarctic region. European vessels were therefore compelled first to take the long and circuitous route by the Cape of Good Hope, which remained the maritime highway to the East during the long period which preceded the building of the Suez Canal, whereby a somewhat shorter route was at last afforded. By these routes the Western nations reached the Pacific, where they found enormous resources and dense populations.
With the expansion of Eastern trade, a more direct avenue to the distant Orient became necessary. The idea of cutting through the Isthmus of Panama gradually took shape, and now the responsibility of carrying out that project has been assumed by the United States. Soon Europe and America will be enabled to reach the Far East by the shortest and most direct route, and unbroken maritime communication between the Eastern and Western hemispheres will be established — an end which has long been desired by every nation of the globe.
Now let us examine what nations border upon the Pacific. First,
we have the long stretch of United States territory, extending from the State of Washington to the southern boundary of California. Westward
of this coast are the Hawaiian Islands, and, still farther west, Guam and the Philippines. The next island to the Philippine archipelago is Formosa. Beginning with Formosa in the south and shaping our course northeastward, we come to the Kurile Islands, at the northern extremity of which is the Aleutian chain, reaching to Alaska. From Alaska to Washington is British territory. If, therefore, we take a circuitous route around the Pacific, we find that it is bounded by the United States, Japan, and Canada. These three countries have the waters of the Pacific in common. Fortunately two of them are Anglo-Saxon, while the other, Japan, although an Asiatic Power, is completely under the influence of Anglo-Saxon civilization, in consequence of her adoption of political liberty, constitutional government, and religious freedom. Consequently, the three nations most interested in the policy of international commerce will be always guided by the same fundamental principles.
Beyond the Pacific are the nations of China and Japan, two of the most important Asiatic countries. In order to obtain a glimpse of their economic future, it is, above all, necessary to inquire into their respective areas and populations. China has a population of four hundred millions and an area of 4,218,000 square miles, while Japan has about forty-eight million inhabitants and an area of 161,000 square miles. Consequently, the population of Japan is about one-tenth and its area only about one-twenty-fifth that of China. As regards area, therefore, China is one of the largest, while Japan is one of the smallest, of nations. Let us now compare the trade of the two nations as exhibited in the subjoined tables
Who will undertake the responsibility of opening up the resources of China? To-day that vast country, with its splendid possibilities, is wedged in from several sides by territorial encroachments on the part of
European Powers, The nations, however, which have the greatest interest in the development of Chinese commerce are either Anglo-Saxon or under the influence of Anglo-Saxon civilization. The enormous rapidity with which Asiatic commerce is growing may be demonstrated from another source. Thirty years ago, the transoceanic transportation on the Pacific was conducted by one line, plying between San Francisco and Yokohama, the largest ship in the service at that time having a capacity of 3,000 tons. To-day an extensive traffic to the Far East is conducted from four great ports, namely, San Francisco, Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver; and the United States may boast of ships having a tonnage of 26,000 tons, such as the "Dakota" and the "Wisconsin." Such is the amount of freight carried by the last-mentioned vessels, which ply between the port of Seattle and the Asiatic coast, that application must be made two months in advance of sailing in order that accommodation for goods may be secured. Every ship has a full load.
It is but natural to assume that this growing trade will be immeasurably increased upon the completion of the Panama Canal. Then, not only the goods from the Pacific Coast, but also those from the Atlantic States and the Gulf, from Maine as far as Texas, may be sent to the East by a direct maritime highway; while European commerce, now largely restricted to the passage via Suez, will also pass through the gateway of the Panama Canal. The enormous advantages to commerce arising from the saving of time alone will become evident from the following tables:
DISTANCE BETWEEN NEW YORK AND YOKOHAMA,
Via Cape of Good Hope...
Via Suez Canal..
Via Panama Canal.
Difference between the Suez Canal and Panama Canal routes...
DISTANCE BETWEEN NEW YORK AND SHANGHAI.
Via Cape of Good Hope....
Via Suez Canal..
Via Panama Canal
Difference between the Suez Canal and Panama Canal routes....
No dogmatic arguments, but simply figures, are necessary to show what an important position Asia will have in the economic future of America. The question now presents itself: What is the United States
to do with regard to the Chinese Empire; what policy will it be necessary for her to adopt?
The United States Government, from the very beginning, has adopted the "open-door" policy in China - a policy diametrically opposed to that of Russia, which country is aiming at the dismemberment of the Chinese Empire, as evidenced by the attempted annexation of Manchuria to her Siberian dominions. Two policies are therefore represented; the one being known as the "open door," advocated by the United States, and the other, being the dismemberment aimed at by Russia. Japan, because under the influence of Anglo-Saxon civilization, is now fighting for the maintenance of that "open-door" policy which the United States, above all other countries, is interested in upholding. On the other hand, the dismemberment of China is endorsed by those European Powers which are guided by the principle of militarism, that is, by Russia, France, and Germany.
Now the question is as to which of these two principles shall be adopted with regard to the future of Manchuria after the present war. The Manchurian people — I am speaking of the Chinese in Manchuria
have been treated badly by the Russians during the past years, and they are ready to welcome any policy that is milder and more lenient than the one under which they are ruled at present. Herein lies the great opportunity for England and the United States to introduce commercial freedom and equality, thereby carrying out the "open-door" principle of the United States in tangible form. Manchuria may thus become an opening wedge, as it were, for the introduction of liberal Anglo-Saxon ideas, which by this means would also find rapid extension in China, not only in a commercial but in a political sense, by serving as an object-lesson as to the difference between Russian rigor and AngloSaxon lenity and moderation.
Manchuria is a very fertile country; millet-seed, wheat, and beans constituting its most important agricultural products. It is rich also in mineral resources, among which gold, iron, and coal are conspicuous. The agricultural implements now in use, however, are extremely crude, being largely operated by hand, although horses and mules are occasionally used. Here is a splendid field for American machinery, especially as regards modern agricultural implements. Manchuria covers a territory as large as that of Germany and France combined. It is sparsely
populated, and its southern and middle provinces consist chiefly of flatlands somewhat resembling the western prairies of the United States. Consequently, the country is admirably suited for the introduction of
the American system of farming. American agricultural implements might here be applied to a variety of purposes, and would soon supersede the primitive contrivances at present in operation. The grinding of the beans used in the preparation of bean-oil for cooking and of bean-cake for fertilizing purposes is now a very crude industry, the old-fashioned process of grinding in a mortar being still in vogue. The manufacture of fertilizers has long been recognized as a very remunerative industry in various parts of the world; and the excellence of the Manchurian bean as a fertilizing agent has long been acknowledged; not only in China, but also in Japan, which country annually imports an enormous quantity of the product. Here the application of American machines would save the time, labor, and expense now involved in the manufacture. American grains might profitably be introduced into so fertile a country, and in this way American flour-mills would soon be in demand. There is also rich timber-land, the forests on the northern and eastern boundaries of the province being very extensive. The cutting of timber for lumber is a most important and profitable industry. And here also the American saw-mill would soon supersede the antiquated methods now in use. Manchuria has at present, roughly speaking, a population of twenty millions, and its foreign trade amounts to one hundred millions of United States money, that is, about five dollars per capita. The foreign trade of China proper, that is, of Chinese territory outside of Manchuria, amounts to about eighty-seven cents per capita.
Now, in view of these conditions in China and Manchuria, I should advise, first and foremost, the establishment by the United States of an American bank in the Far East, organized upon lines similar to those which characterize the Shanghai and Hong-Kong Bank of Great Britain. The latter has its main office in London and branch offices all over the East. Similarly, the United States should establish a financial institution under the name of the American Asiatic Bank, the main office of which should be in New York, while branches should be located at Yokohama (Japan), Chemulpo (Korea), and Niuchwang (Manchuria), as well as at Shanghai, Hong-Kong, Canton, and other centres of China. With the establishment of such an institution under an American company, Americans now in business in the Far East would no longer be compelled to rely on British and Japanese banks in conducting monetary transactions. If you would successfully extend your commerce and industry in the Far East, you must first have a bank, a monetary medium, through which you can buy and sell.
The second duty devolving upon the United States is to complete,