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The Indo-Pacific: Trump, China, and the New Struggle for Global Mastery
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It is the same with ocean communication. We are as yet far off the time when supply will exceed demand, and if the long-dormant wealth of the Hawaiian man Orient is to be exploited every facility for bridging the distance from West to East must be utilised. We have spoken of America's stepping-stones from West to East, and the first of these is Honolulu, in the beautiful islands of Hawaii. These islands were originally the home of one of the finest offshoots of that prehistoric Caucasian race called the Polynesian.
The Kanakas, as they are called, are some of the most interesting of Pacific peoples, and the steady and rapid diminution of their numbers is greatly to be regretted. Since Honolulu first became a half-way house for vessels olying between East and West great changes have taken place. From the first the Hawaiians adopted eagerly the religion and customs brought by early missionaries and traders, and the influence gained by the former was extraordinary.
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After many political squabbles among the native rulers and the various leaders of mixed nationality who obtained a following, the United States annexed the islands,which now form a "territory. Hawaiian girl Chinese and Japanese of whom there are actually over 40, in the islands are therefore restricted as far as possible, but nevertheless they form a considerable proportion of the population.
The former are the market gardeners of the island, and they and the Japanese are practically the only domestic servants, and are also largely employed on the plantations. Both Chinese and Japanese immigration is likely to be still more strictly restricted, and the attitude of Hawaiian officials in this matter, and the evident intention in all American ports to discriminate between the white man and the yellow— even when the latter is a highly civilised Japanese—is arousing much bitter feeling in Japan, and does not meet with the approval of the Chinese.
The traveller, tired of the monotonous sea journey, is too pleased to mind should an insidious voice whisper that the native dance, performed for his benefit, is now as little native as the performance of nautch girls at Calcutta or of geishas at Nagasaki, being merely arranged for the benefit of the globe-trotter; and he cares not a jot that the flowers, and even the trees, which delight his eyes are all imported.
When he comes to pay the bill for his day's amusement, however, he will probably be less enthusiastic, for nothing is more American than the prices in Honolulu. The principal industry in these favoured islands is the cultivation of sugar and rice. The former absorbs a great proportion of the trade, and is exported to the United States.
Vegetables and fruit with the exception of bananas are curiously scarce, and tinned fruit from California is largely imported into Hawaii, as well as other Pacific islands—a curious state of affairs when we consider the climatic conditions. The labour difficulty is one of the chief drawbacks to the prosperity of Hawaii, for the Kanakas, who are, moreover, a decreasing race, cannot be induced to do coolie work in large numbers.
They are of independent and somewhat indolent character, and prefer individual effort, unless they work under some of their own countrymen of rank. Attention is also needed in the forestry department, for the wholesale destruction of woods, especially on the island of Hawaii, has not only caused droughts, but has reduced a large area to the condition of barren desert.
This group is of great strategic importance, and in Pangopango, on the island of Tutuila, the United States have secured a magnificent naval station, according to competent authorities the finest and safest harbour in the Pacific. It was only actively occupied in , though the harbour wTas ceded to the States as early as It is only the two small islands of Tutuila and Manua that belong to the United States, the two larger ones of Savaii and Upolu being German. This division dates from , when a treaty was concluded between the three Powers, Britain, Germany, and the United States, who had hitherto guaranteed the independence of Samoa.
Apia, the capital of the islands, is quite a European town, and the civilisation and Christianising of the natives is practically accomplished. At the same time there are no islands where native life and customs have been so little disturbed, for the paramount missionary influence was exerted so that the native should be Christianised, but not Anglicised, and neither Germans nor Americans have done much to interfere with national life.
Even to-day an intelligent and sympathetic visitor could say in the west of Savaii see the Samoan as he was a hundred years ago, and of his charms and virtues, as well as his weaknesses, all lovers of Robert Louis Stevenson have read and re-read, until the free, happy, gentle, flower-loving people seem familiar to him. The introduction of civilisation and commerce, however, had the usual effect on the Samoans ; they assimilated quickly, but were not able to cope with the more complicated state of affairs. The Tutuilans, in particular, long split into factions and without any organised rule, were torn by political dissensions.
The extensive expenditure in building wharves, coal- sheds and Government offices at Pango-pango has given lucrative employment to a large number of natives, and there seems every prospect that this most beautiful and fertile of all the Pacific groups will now prosper.
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The possibilities of trade expansion for the United States under the new conditions now in process of rapid evolution are much discussed, but the fundamental features are apt to be obscured in a mass of details and figures, for which there are no sufficient data. The employment of statistics in such a case is altogether misleading, and the solution, if any, is to be sought rather by the exercise of a certain amount of imagination guided by the light of past experience. In the Asiatic-Pacific area, that is, countries bordering the Pacific or the islands, with which the United States are now brought into immediate contact, there are close on five hundred millions of people—six times the population of the United States and one-third that of the whole human race.
Of this enormous population, four hundred million belong to two Oriental nations, China and Japan ; the former broken down, discredited, derelict, passing under the sway of various European Powers; the latter a highly organised and civilised country in the Van of progress. From many points of view the contrast between Japan and China is great, and not least in the conditions of their foreign trade.
borhichata.gq Inter alia, the trade of the United States in imports and exports with Japan has increased annually by leaps and bounds during the past ten years. The general foreign trade of Japan, with about one-seventh the population of China, is actually eight times as great, a fact eloquent as to the possibilities of trade expansion in China under the new conditions. In Japan the development has been accomplished by the Japanese themselves, almost without direct foreign aid, for there was at the first only the merest handful of Europeans to teach them.
Their assimilation was accomplished by means of one of the greatest Intelligence agencies ever set in motion spread all over the world, utilising the knowledge of the West, and not ignoring that of the East. This great development, far from diminishing, is likely to increase more rapidly still should Japan decide to employ foreign capital in developing her resources. But the prospect of increasing trade depends largely on the political relations, for Japan is not likely to submit tamely to the treatment accorded her by the exclusion policy of the United States, no more than she is likely to endure it from the offspring of Britain in the Pacific—Australasia and British Columbia.
The question of trade with China is a much debated one, but the answer chiefly depends on certain fundamental features, mainly whether China is a rich or a poor country, whether she is overpopulated or not, whether she will remain an independent Power or fall under European control. There are those who, arguing from the standstill condition of China's trade, maintain that China is a poor country and that she is overpopulated.
The general consensus of opinion, however, is that China is a land of vast possibilities in her soil, but the potentialities in her people are usually overlooked. Under these circumstances it is useless to discuss the possibilities of China as it was a few years ago. We have to consider a China controlled in certain regions by various Powers, the still independent section of the country gradually diminishing in extent.
Under these circumstances the Powers that have merely commercial ambitions, such as the United States and Britain, have to face the problem of a Russian China, a German China, a French China, all under protectionist tariffs which must effectually put an end to any hope of the open door. The vast resources of China, which her rulers have proved themselves hopelessly unfitted to utilise, are now to be developed by various Powers who will bring to bear on the task all the powers of organisation and capital which are commanded by the West.
In the major part of the chief imports—cotton goods, opium, rice, metal manufactures and mineral oil—there seems little opening for the United States. Opium and rice she cannot supply ; in cotton goods she cannot hope to supplant Britain and India; only in manufactures and oil is she likely immediately to increase rapidly.