Not only does this admirable system of intercommunication bring all parts of the world very closely together, but it tends to produce in all a certain similarity in those characteristics and habits of thought that pertain to the material things of life. We are all imitative, and therefore we tend to imitate each other; but the inferior is more apt to imitate the superior than vice versa. Particularly are we prone to imitate those actions and qualities by which others have attained material success. So it is to be expected, it is already a fact, that the methods whereby a few great nations attained success are already being imitated by other nations. Japan has imitated so well that in some ways she has already surpassed her models.
With such an example before her, should we be surprised that China has also become inoculated with the virus of commercial and political ambitions? It cannot be many years before she will be in the running with the rest of us, with 400,000,000 of people to do the work; people of intelligence, patience, endurance, and docility; people with everything to gain and nothing to lose; with the secret of how to succeed already taught by other nations, which she can learn from an open book.
If Japan has learned our secret and mastered it in fifty years, will China not be able to do it in less than fifty years?
Before we answer this question, let us realize clearly that China is much nearer to us in civilization than Japan was fifty years ago; that China has Japan’s example to guide her, and also that any degree of civilization which was acquired by us in say one hundred years will not require half that time for another nation merely to learn. The same is true of all branches of knowledge; the knowledge of the laws of nature which it took Newton many years to acquire may now be mastered by any college student in two months. And let us not forget, besides, that almost the only difficult element of civilization which other people need to acquire, in order to enter into that world-wide competition which is characteristic of the time we live in, is “engineering” broadly considered. Doubtless there are other things to learn besides; but it is not apparent that any other things have contributed largely to the so-called new civilization of Japan. Perhaps Japan has advanced enough in Christianity to account for her advance in material power, but if so she keeps very quiet about it. It may be, also, that the relations of the government to the governed people of Japan are on a higher plane than they used to be, but on a plane not yet so high as in our own country; but has any one ever seen this claimed or even stated? It may be that the people of Japan are more kindly, brave, courteous, and patriotic than they were, and that their improvement has been due to their imitating us in these matters; but this is not the belief of many who have been in Japan. One thing, however, is absolutely sure; and that is that Japan’s advance has been simultaneous with her acquirement of the engineering arts, especially as applied to military and naval matters and the merchant marine.