Table Topic questions are meant to stimulate family and classroom discussion.
Use the questions below after reading,"Partners Across the Pacific."
- Today, Pacific Rim vessels come and go from Elliot Bay with little notice,
much less fanfare. Why were the people of Seattle so excited by the arrival of
the Japanese steamship Miike Maru in the harbor in August of 1896? What kinds of products
were on that ship and where were they going from here? And what are some ways that our links
to Asia forged a century ago have affected our regional culture and economy?
At the turn-of-the-century, trade with the Far East was flourishing. Transnational railroads
were key to its development, as we can see from the deal struck by James J. Hill with the Japanese
Mail Steamship Company. Seattle remains a great port city, but what changes have occurred in
the way we transport goods today?
The city rolled out the red carpet for visiting Asian dignitaries while immigrant
Asian laborers were often treated with prejudice and sometimes outright hostility.
What cultural misunderstandings may have caused this double standard? Do you think our
modern multicultural society handles issues of race and class any better? Have we become more
or less class conscious?
The Seattle Times correctly predicted that the impact of Klondike gold would pale before
the riches earned by Asian Pacific trade. What signs do you find in the paper now that
it is just as crucial to our economy today?
Although exports to Japan dominated Pacific trade in the 1900s, businesses
then were eager to develop economic ties with the huge country of China.
Trade with China remains important to regional business today but is difficult
for political reasons. What do you think about trade with countries with questionable
records of human rights or other social policies that clash with American values?
Do you think politics played as big a role in the 1900s?
Asian teas, silks and ginger have given way to imports of apparel,
electronics and cars. Have the original exports of the Northwest's raw materials like lumber,
coal, wheat and metals changed as much? Look into the future and think about trade with foreign
countries one hundred years from now. Do you think it will change more or less dramatically than
our last century of trade with Asia?
Copyright © 1996 The Seattle Times Company