Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

INTRODUCTION

The Pacific is challenging the supremacy of the Atlantic. Half a century ago Baron von Humboldt and our own keensighted statesman, William E. Seward, both prophesied the eventful triumph of this greatest of all oceans; and today it is claimed that the center of the world's trade and commerce, which in the past has moved from the Tigris-Euphrates Valley to the Mediterranean, and then from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, bids fair, "in the life time of those now children to shift once more westward to the Pacific." As Ex-president Roosevelt expressed it, not many years ago, "The Pacific Era destined to be the greatest of all, and to bring the whole human race at last into one great comity of nations, is just at the dawn." Whether the Pacific will actually surpass the Atlantic as a center of human interest and business activity may well be doubted, but that it will very soon share with the Atlantic the unquestioned supremacy which the latter has so long enjoyed seems reasonably certain.

Already the world's political center of gravity has shifted to the Pacific. The changes which are upsetting the longestablished equilibrium of the nations, which are overturning the present balance of power, are taking place primarily in the lands washed by that ocean. It has already, in the past two decades, given birth to one new world power, Japan, which in the last few years has most profoundly changed the aspect of international politics, and whose alliance with Great Britain is today the controlling political fact in Asia certainly, and possibly in Europe as well. It is this alliance, according to some critics of international politics, which has led to the realignment of the great military states in Europe itself. After Japan there comes China, soon to be a second new world power and destined still further to disturb the world's present international balance.

The population and the resources of the Pacific, which will determine the eventful importance of the ocean, compare

favorably with, and in some instances surpass those of the Atlantic. In climate, fertility of soil and ability to produce large quantities of the world's staples, there is not very much difference between them. In population, the Chinese and the Japanese alone outnumber the inhabitants of Europe, while the recent success of Japan in proving itself superior to one of Europe's military powers in a kind of competition which Europe has voluntarily chosen as the supreme test of international ability, shows the humor of regarding these Asiatic peoples as racial inferiors. It is in the supply of the great natural resources, however, coal and iron, that the Pacific has the especial advantage of the Atlantic. According to Mr. Gifford Pinchot, Mr. Andrew Carnegie, and Professor Tornebohm of Sweden, the workable deposits of coal and iron in both the United States and in Europe, provided the existing increase in the rate of consumption continues, will be used up before the end of the present century. Whether this gloomy prophesy is accepted as accurate or not, it seems evident that when the coal and iron of the Atlantic lands are exhausted, China alone will have an abundance of these raw materials which have been well called "the vital essence of our civilization."

A rapid development in the Pacific of European communities, largely Anglo-Saxon, will soon still further strengthen this ocean. Most of the lands of the temperate zone throughout the world capable of supporting great virile populations, but which are now relatively undeveloped, are situated on the Pacific. Western Canada with its thousands of miles of coast and its virgin grain fields; our own far Western states, Washington, Oregon and California, probably unsurpassed in climate and agricultural possibilities; New Zealand and Australia, a continent in extent, will all in the near future in power and in vigor of race balance many of the countries of the Atlantic.

Even a slight consideration of these possibilities of the Pacific must give some idea of the increasingly important influence which its leading countries will exert upon the nations of the West. This influence, already potent, is bound to increase rapidly in the future, especially that of

China, the greatest potential factor in the dawning Pacific Era. The strength of our own western coast as well as that of the British Pacific possessions may be measured with reasonable certainty; while both the power as well as the limitations of Japan are now understood; but the possibilities of China, when thoroughly awakened and organized on a modern basis, are almost beyond computation. The Chinese, who make up a fourth of the world's population, are one of the ablest known races, physically, mentally and morally. Their physical endurance surpasses that of Europeans and Americans, according to the testimony of foreign physicians; their mentality is proven by the standing of their students in Western schools; and their moral stamina is shown by their earnestness and their partial success at least in destroying the opium traffic. They have already left the ruts of their centuries-old civilization and begun to adopt the new customs and institutions of the West and of Japan; this is especially noticeable in their new system of scientific education. The revolution itself, considering the forces opposing it and the immensity of the country, has been carried out, notwithstanding the recent reaction, with a success which has surprised the closest students of Chinese conditions.

The outcome of the struggle to establish a stable, modern, somewhat democratic government in China is of great importance to the United States, for in the future these two countries are bound to exert a strong influence each upon the other, since they will remain, probably forever, the two most populous nations upon the opposite sides of the Pacific. We are now even closer to China than we generally realize. Worcester is today nearer in thought-by telegraph and cable to the capital of the Republic of China than it was to Boston in the days of Washington; it is today nearer to Peking physically-it takes less time to travel there— than it was to Pittsburgh when our national government was founded.

Americans have already most profoundly effected conditions in China. The leaders of the present revolution have largely followed American ideas and ideals, and have taken

as their heroes our own national heroes of the past. American schools have laid much of the basis upon which the new China has been built. With only a little exaggerationfor the important part played by Japan must not be forgotten-one might write a history of the upheaval of the past two or three years under the title "The American Revolution in China."

When the Pacific Era shall have become an accomplished fact, the influence of the orient as a whole, and of China in particular, will be increasingly great. Even at present the majority of the vital diplomatic questions which have been before the American Government during the past decade, have been issues concerning the Pacific. But the Far East is bound to affect our country not merely in its diplomacy, but in its trade, its industry, its education and its modes of thought. The revolution in China deserves our most earnest study, not only because, if successful, this re-creation of one of the most numerous and the most able peoples of the globe will take its place in history as a world event of lasting importance, but also because it will exert a marked influence upon our own country as a neighboring Pacific power.

To consider these great changes now taking place, some thirty experts came together at Clark University, November 13-16, 1912, for a four days conference upon recent developments in China. Some of them knew the Manchu dynasty in its old days, and were decorated by the Imperial Court for distinguished service; one came into close personal touch with that almost unapproachable sovereign the Empress Dowager. Some, as teachers and missionaries, laid the foundation upon which new China is rising; one represents the modern physician in the westernizing of medical practice in China and has himself fought the plague in Manchuria with the bravery and by the methods of the West. Some, as long-time residents of China, have seen the revolution in its inception, its development, its outbreak; they have known its leaders and in some cases have taught them as students. Still others are authorities on the complicated international situation of China; some of whom have themselves taken

« ForrigeFortsæt »