"The Era of the Pacific"


By HENRY A. WALLACE, Vice-President of the United States

Broadcast over NBC from Seattle, Wash., July 9, 1944

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 583-586.

SINCE I left the skies above America seven weeks ago, I have visited two great countries—Soviet Asia and China; I have not stood upon the threshold of these countries like a stranger. I have been honored with the confidence of those who are working to shape their countries' destinies. I have been privileged to look behind the scenes.

Today I want to tell you something of my experiences of the past weeks.

In the first place, I am today more than ever an American. The more I examine other countries, the more convinced I am that the American way of life is the best way for us. In the second place, we can and should fit our own way of life to cooperation with other nations and other peoples whose way of life is different from ours but who need our cooperation Quite as much as we need theirs, and who are not only willing but eager to cooperate with us. to In the third place, I am convinced that main area of new development after this war—new enterprise, new investment, new trade, new accomplishments—will be in the new world of the North Pacific and Eastern Asia.

Looks to the Pacific Coast

This will give to our Pacific Coast an importance greater than it has ever had before, and I am glad, returning from Soviet Asia and China, that Seattle is my port of entry. No city is more American in spirit and action than Seattle. But no city has shown itself more alive to the importance of our relations with the other areas of the North Pacific

The spirit is well exemplified, not only in your active peace-time trade with Asia, but also in the University of Washington, where for several years you have worked on integrating the study of the languages, cultures, history, politics and economics of the Pacific.

We shall need all our resources of knowledge and all our American readiness to think out new ways of tackling new problems when we have won the war in the Pacific.

The day will come when the Pacific will be cleared of Japs and our boys, coming home from Tokyo, will land at Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Then we shall think more and more of our West as a link with the East of Asia.

East Declared on the Move

Those who say that East is East and West is West and that the two shall never meet are wrong. The East of Asia, both Chinese and Russian, is on the move in a way which is easy for any American to understand who sees these great areas at first-hand for himself. The rapid agricultural and industrial development of this great area means so much to the peace and prosperity of the post-war world that I am glad on my return to America to give my impressions of the manifest destiny of the west of America and the east of Asia.

Here in Northwest United States we were long held back by unfair freight rates and by failure to develop the power inherent in the great rivers. But more and more we are perceiving the importance of strengthening our West and especially our Northwest.

Thanks to men like Norris, McNary, Bone and Roosevelt, the Northwest during the past ten years has rapidly expanded. This expansion must continue to the limit of its agricultural, industrial and commercial potentialities. This includes Alaska, which has not yet begun to measure up to its possibilities. Our growth must be not merely in terms of ourselves, but also in terms of Asia. Vigorous two-way trade with Soviet Asia and China will greatly increase the population and prosperity of our Northwest.

"Era of the Pacific"

All of this I knew in a theoretical way before going to Asia. After having seen as much of the industry and agriculture of East Asia as any American has seen in such a short time, I am more than ever convinced that we are entering upon what might be called "The Era of the Pacific."

One characteristic of the Pacific era will be the building of great airports in parts of the world now very thinly inhabited. The extent to which the Russians have already developed runways and servicing for airplanes in East Asia amazed me. We landed at perhaps a dozen airports in Soviet Asia, the names of which not one in a thousand Americans ever heard.

It is quite possible that for 15 or 20 years after this war the air route to Asia via Fairbanks, Alaska, will not be a money-making one. But it is also certain that our national future requires that we, in cooperation with Russia and the Chinese, maintain such a route. Soviet Asia during the past 15 years has more than doubled its population* It is quite possible that the next 50 years will see a further increase of more than 30 million people.

I am convinced from what I saw of the Amur River region that in the southern part of that area there will be a great increase in population. Russia, as a result of her experience with this war will certainly shift much of her industry east of the Urals. Most of the people who moved to Siberia with their factories will stay there.

Everywhere, from Magadan on the Pacific Ocean to Tashkent in central Asia, I found the Russian people producing to the limit in the factory and on the farm. About two-thirds of the work on farms and one-third of the work in the factories is being done by women.

Lend-Lease Supplies in View

In the factories everywhere I found American machinery, some purchased before the war but most of it obtained under lend-lease. The way in which American industry through lend-lease has helped Russia to expand production in Soviet Asia has given me an increased admiration both for the United States and for Russia.

I found American flour in the Soviet Far East, American aluminum in Soviet airplane factories, American steel in truck and railway repair shops, American machine tools in shipbuilding yards, American compressors and electrical equipment on Soviet naval vessels, American electric shovels in open-cut coal mines, American core drills in copper mines of central Asia, and American trucks and planes performing strategic transportation functions in supplying remote bases.

I found the people, both in positions of management and at the work benches, appreciative of the aid rendered by the United States and the other Allies. While it is misleading to make any comparison between the huge Soviet industrial effort and the amount of lend-lease aid we have been able to give the U.S.S.R., I am convinced from what I saw in Siberia and central Asia that lend-lease has helped the Russians in many difficult and even critical situations on the industrial front, as well as on the military front.

On the rich irrigated land of central Asia a strong cotton industry is being rapidly developed. At Tashkent, a city of a million people, I found experimental work in cotton which for its originality and practical effectiveness compares most favorably with the best in the United States. Modern industry was also flourishing at this ancient seat of Eastern culture.

From Tashkent, my farthest point west, we turned east to Alma Ata, my last stop before entering China. There I found not only excellent scientific work with apples but also the beginnings of a moving-picture industry which may make Alma Ata the Hollywood of central Asia. Located at the foot of the Tien Shan—Heavenly Mountains—the city is blessed with a superb climate, almost as good as that of southern California.

China is totally different from Soviet Asia. While she is eager and anxious to enter the machine age, she has not yet been able to turn out, in either modern war materials or heavy goods, more than a small fraction of her needs. This situation should not long continue.

China, with her 450 million people and her great resources, should sooner or later produce a large portion oi her requirements in the way of heavy and light industrial goods and also consumer goods. But to modernize her industry and train her people, China needs help. We have thousands of technical and businessmen in the United States who are able to furnish that help. But the businessmen in particular want to be sure of one thing. They want to be Certain, before they lay the foundations and make the necessary outlay, that there is no foreseeable likelihood of conflict within China or between China and Russia.

For Higher Living Standards

I am glad to say that I found among those with whom I talked an outspoken desire for good understanding, and personally I am convinced that China and the U.S.S.R. will take the necessary steps to insure continuing peace and to promote cultural and commercial exchanges among the nations of the Pacific to the benefit of all.

Asia is the center of the greatest land and population masses of the world. It is our business to be friends withboth Russia and China and exchange with both Russia and China the goods and information which will raise the standard of living of all our peoples. I found the leaders in both Soviet Asia and China anxious for the most friendly relationship with the United States and expressing the utmost confidence in the leadership of President Roosevelt. Living standards can be raised. Causes of war can be removed.

Failure to concern ourselves with problems of this sort after World War I is costing us today hundreds of billions of dollars and a terrible toll of human life. To avoid a recurrence of the scourge of war, it is essential insofar as the Pacific basin is concerned, that relations among the four principal powers in the Pacific—China, the Soviet Union, the British Commonwealth and the United States—be cordial and collaborative.

Puts China's Fate on Trade

Post-war stability in China is dependent upon economic reconstruction—agricultural as well as industrial—and reconstruction in China is dependent upon trade. It became clear to me during my visit to China that reconstruction is going to depend in large measure on imports from abroad. It will require technical and material assistance from us given on a businesslike basis.

We hear much about industrial reconstruction in China. I found the Chinese anxious for industrialization. China should be industrialized. But any industrialization of China must be based upon agricultural reconstruction, agrarian reform, because China is predominately a nation of farmers. They are good farmers, as I observed during my stay there, but they need a break—a New Deal.

China should make the necessary reform but we can help by furnishing technicians and scientific information and, on the trade level, by selling the Chinese agricultural implements, fertilizers and insecticides. Ultimately of course, China should make these things for herself.

China should be self-sufficient in foods but I can foresee that for many years the Chinese will continue to import food products from our West—wheat, flour and fruits for instance. In fact, it is not unreasonable to anticipate that, with an increase in the standard of living of China's consumers, a healthy exchange of food products peculiar to China and our West will develop and endure. Northwest lumber should play an important part in the China of the future as it has in the China of the past.

Much Machinery Is Required

The industrialization of China will require machines, and the materials of which machines are made. During recent years our West has been developing facilities for the production of steel and machinery. These will be in demand in China to produce the consumer goods which will be needed by the masses of East Asia.

Machines for land, sea, and air transportation will also be needed. Our West is in a particularly strategic position to produce for the east of Asia airships and sea ships, and the timber, steel and aluminum of which they are made.

Trade is not a one-way affair—it is a swap, sometimes direct and sometimes complicated. It seems evident that credits will have to be employed to finance economic development in East Asia. But those credits must be repaid, and the most satisfactory way to repay is with goods. So, speaking particularly of China, we should plan to buy as well as to sell.

Such typical commodities as wood oil, silks, tea, hides ana metals, which formed the bulk of China's exports to us before the war, should form the basis of an expanding Chinese export to the United States after the war.

There is a great future for trade between East Asia and ourselves. To bring this to pass will take not only a sympathetic understanding of each other's conditions and a farsighted determination to make trade what it should be—a mutually beneficial transaction.

Reports Changes in East Asia

Day after tomorrow I hope to report to President Roosevelt certain definite facts which I am not at liberty to discuss here. But I can say that everywhere I went in Eastern Asia I found rapid changes. Even in Mongolia, one of the most remote regions of the world, I found that the changes of the past twenty years had been very great. The United States, together with Russia and Great Britain, has a profound interest in the rapid, peaceful change of Eastern Asia to the more fruitful use of her vast natural and human resources.

Here is a great new frontier to which Seattle can furnish much in the way of leadership. Our scientists must cooperate with the Russian and Canadian scientists in learning how to lick the problems of the permanently frozen ground of Alaska, Canada and the north of Siberia. We must exchange agricultural and weather information.

I have found a splendid disposition on the part of Russian scientists to cooperate in agricultural matters and a frank readiness on the part of Chinese administrators to consider America's position as well as China's in discussing future economic cooperation. This gives me great hope for the long future.

Vast Resources Stressed

The American businessman of tomorrow should have a broad world outlook. I have faith that American economic leadership will confer on the Pacific region a great material benefit and on the world a great blessing. The new frontier extends from Minneapolis via the Coast States and Alaska through Siberia and China all the way to Central Asia.

Here are vast resources of minerals and manpower to be developed by democratic, peaceful methods—the methods not of exploitation, but, on the contrary, the more profitable method of creating higher living standards for hundreds of millions of people.

It was a wonderful trip. I am grateful to President Roosevelt for giving me an opportunity to talk with people in every walk of life in Asia who are aiding us in winning this war. With victory we can continue to work together in peace.

We want a higher standard of living in America. We want full production, jobs for our boys who come home, and peacetime jobs for those who are now employed. Trade with Russia and China will help keep the factories of America busy in the days which lie ahead. We are on our way.