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Indeed, Germany and particularly the United States have built a tariff wall about themselves, expressly to protect home industries from outside competition, and not a few American manufacturers have recently been on the verge of panic on account of Japanese competition. Europe and America are trying to force their own manufactures on to Asia and to take in return only what they please.
In time, this will probably right itself, in part at least. While the farmers of the Mississippi Valley find living much more expensive than it was two generations ago, they also find that they get more for their wheat and that they eat better food and wear better clothes and build better houses than their grandfathers. The era of railroads ended the days of cheap living, but it ended as well days when the farmer had to confine himself to a diet of corn-bread and salt pork, when his home was destitute of comforts and his children had little schooling and no books. So the American working man of today has to pay more for the necessaries of life than the working man of Europe, but he is nevertheless the best paid, the best fed, the best clothed and the best housed working man in the world, a far better and more intelligent citizen because of these very conditions.
The same changes will doubtless take place in Asia. That great continent is capable of producing enormous quantities of food, minerals and both raw and manufactured articles which the rest of the world will sooner or later want. Already this foreign demand is bringing comparative wealth to the rug dealers of Syria, the silk embroiderers of China and the cloisonné and porcelain makers of Japan. But only an infinitesimal part of the total population has thus far profited largely by this wider market. Where one man amasses wealth in this way, 100,000 men find that aggressive foreign traders exploit their wares by flooding the shops with tempting articles which they can ill-afford to buy. The difficulty is rapidly becoming acute. My inquiries in Japan led me to the conclusion that while the cost of the staple articles of living has increased nearly 100 per cent. in the last twenty years, the financial ability of the average Japanese has not increased thirty per cent. In China, Siam, India, the Philippine Islands, and Syria I found substantially similar anxieties though the proportions naturally varied. “True, there has been commerce since the early ages, but caravans could afford to carry only precious goods, like fine fabrics, spices and gems. These luxuries did not reach the multitude, and could not materially change environment. But modern commerce scatters over all the world the products of every climate, in ever increasing quantities."
So the economic revolution in Asia is characterized, as such revolutions usually are in Europe and America, by wide-spread unrest and, in some places, by violence. The oldest of continents is the latest to undergo the throes of the stupendous transformation from which the newest is slowly beginning to emerge. The transition period in Asia will be longer and perhaps more trying, as the numbers involved are vaster and more conservative ; but the ultimate result cannot fail to be beneficial both to Asia and to the whole world.
It is therefore too late to discuss the question whether the character and religions of these nations should be disturbed. They have already been disturbed by the inrush of new ideas and by the ways as well as by the products of the white man. Like their ancient temples, the religions of Asia are cracking from pinnacle to foundation. The natives themselves realize that the old days are passing forever. India is in a ferment. Japan has leaped to world prominence. The power of the Mahdi has been broken and the Soudan has been opened to civilization. The King of Siam has made Sunday a legal holiday and is frightening his conservative subjects by his revolutionary changes, while Korea is changing with kaleidoscopic rapidity.
Whereas the opening years of the sixteenth century saw the struggle for civilization, of the seventeenth century for religious liberty, of the eighteenth century for constitutional government, of the nineteenth century for political freedom, the opening years of the twentieth century witness what Lowell would have called :
FOREIGN TRADE AND FOREIGN VICES
THE influences that are thus surging into the Middle
foreign trade date back to the third century, though it was not until comparatively recent years that it grew to large proportions. To-day the leading seaports of China have many great business houses handling vast quantities of European and American goods. The most persistent effort is made to extend commerce with the Chinese. That the effort is successful is shown by the fact that the foreign trade of China increased from 217,183,960 taels in 1888 to 460,533,288 taels in 1900, and even this gain of more than a hundred per cent. does not express the whole truth, for it does not include the coastwise shipping or the considerable quantities of goods brought in by Chinese vessels which, though plying between native and foreign ports, are not reported through the customs' service. According to official reports,' the foreign trade of China has been growing rapidly during recent years, the only falling off having been in the Boxer outbreak year 1900. In 1891, the imports into China were, in round numbers, 134,000,000 taels and the exports were 101,000,000, a total of 235,000,000, and an excess of imports of 33 per cent. In 1903 the imports had advanced to 327,000,000 taels and the exports to 214,000,000 taels, a total of 541,000,000 taels, an increase of 130 per cent. and an excess of imports of 53 per cent. In 1899 the total foreign trade of China had reached 460,000,000 taels. The next year it dropped to 370,000,000 taels, but in 1901 it sprang
1« Returns of Trade for 1903," published by the Maritime Customs Department of China.
to 438,000,000 taels, and has advanced another 100,000,000 taels within the past two years."
The share of the United States is larger than one might infer from the reports, as no inconsiderable part of our trade goes to China by way of England and Hongkong and is often credited to the British total instead of to ours. American trade has, moreover, rapidly increased since 1900. We now sell more cotton goods to China than to all other countries combined, the exports having increased from $5,195,845 in 1898 to $16,048,485 in 1902. In the same year, 45, 287,807 gallons of kerosene oil valued at $2,500,000 were shipped from the United States to China. The development of the flour trade has been extraordinary, the sales having risen from $89,305 in 1898 to $4,676,491 in the first ten months of 1903.
In Hongkong, I found American flour controlling the market. I learned on inquiry that years before, a firm in Portland, Oregon, had sent an agent to introduce its flour. The rice-eating Chinese did not want it, but the agent stayed, gave away samples, explained its use and pushed his goods so energetically and persistently that after years of labour and the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars a market was created. Now that firm sells in such enormous quantities that its numerous mills must run day and night to supply the demand, and the annual profits run into six figures. That city of Portland alone exported to Asia, chiefly China, in 1903:
849,360 barrels flour. ............. $2,974,620
A2.001 522,007 bushers wheat . . . . . . . . . . . . . 413,901 46,847,975 feet lumber ...
647,355 Miscellaneous merchandise . . . . . . . . . . . 352,879
Total . ................. $4,414,651
While cotton goods, kerosene oil and flour are our chief exports to China, there is a growing demand for many other
1« Returns of Trade for 1903,” published by the Maritime Customs Department of China.