The following are the top ten world news events in the year 2016 selected by Xinhua in a chronological order:
1. CHINESE DIPLOMACY MAKES HEADWAY IN ALL FIELDS
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Middle Eastern countries of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran from Jan. 19 to 23, kicking off China’s major diplomatic actions for the year.
In the past year, Chinese diplomacy has been moving forward in all directions with fruitful results. China successfully held the Group of 20 (G20) Hangzhou summit, leading global governance reform and showing responsibility on climate change.
In 2016, China has safeguarded regional stability and cooperation, maintained stable relationships with major countries, and expanded China’s “circle of friends” in developing countries.
In the year, China has made new breakthroughs in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative with related countries, and firmly safeguarded China’s sovereignty rights in the South China Sea.
2. DPRK’S NUCLEAR TESTS INTENSIFY ON KOREAN PENINSULA
Against strong objection of the international community, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted two nuclear tests in January and September this year, and launched ballistic missiles multiple times, aggravating the tense situation in northeast Asia.
The United Nations Security Council has condemned the DPRK’s actions many times through statements and resolutions, and has imposed sanctions on the country.
Meanwhile, South Korea and the United States, under the excuse of tackling the DPRK’s threat, have conducted several joint military drills this year.
South Korea, disregarding the strong opposition from neighboring countries including China and Russia as well as from its own people, fully initiated the deployment of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system in the country on March 4, seriously damaging the security and strategic balance in northeast Asia.
3. CONFLICTS BETWEEN RUSSIA AND WEST DAMPEN SYRIA PEACE TALKS
On Feb. 27, a cessation of hostilities plan backed by Russia and the United States went into effect in Syria. On Sept. 10, Russia and the United States agreed to implement a nationwide ceasefire in the country, bringing hope to push the Syrian issue back to the negotiation table at an early date.
However, since October, the conflicts between Russia and the West over Syria have intensified — the United States announced it would halt the ceasefire negotiation with Russia and hold back its joint plan with Russia to crack down on terrorists; meanwhile, Russia and some Western countries such as France rejected each other’s draft resolution on Syria at the UN Security Council.
The conflict between Russia and the West has added more uncertainties to tension-filled Syria and has made the future of the Syrian peace talks unpredictable.
4. EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ATTACKED BY TERRORISTS
In the past year, Europe was the target of multiple terrorist attacks. On March 22, Belgium’s Brussels was hit by explosions at an airport and a metro station, killing at least 34 people. On July 14, a man ploughed a heavy truck into a crowd celebrating the French national day in France’s Nice, killing 84. By the end of the year, the Christmas market in downtown Berlin, the German capital, was also hit by a truck attack.
Facing the new trend of “localized,” “fragmented” and “lone wolf” terrorist attacks, many European countries are adopting stricter counter-terrorism measures such as prolonging states of emergency, enhancing security and conducting anti-terrorism drills, while at the same time drafting new plans to fight terrorism.
Analysts pointed out that the mess in the Middle East caused by the West’s intervention has created a breeding ground for terrorism, and its spillover effect has reached Europe.
In addition, Europe also faces political, economic, social and refugee challenges of its own. To win its war against terrorism, Europe has a long way to go.
5. “BREXIT” HITS EUROPEAN INTEGRATION
On June 23, the British voted to “say goodbye” to the European Union (EU) in a referendum by a 52-48 margin, shocking the world.
“Brexit” has split Britain’s public opinion and reshuffled the cabinet. It dealt a hard blow to the EU’s decades-long efforts on European integration, causing Euroscepticism to rise further.
Globally, “Brexit” reflects a grave divide among Western societies, the public’s loss of confidence in its current system and an anti-globalization trend.
6. CHINA, THE PHILIPPINES BACK TO NEGOTIATIONS ON SOUTH CHINA SEA
On July 12, an ad hoc tribunal handling the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the former Philippine government issued its final award, in an attempt to damage China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests in the South China Sea.
For its part, the Chinese government has repeatedly and solemnly stated that the behavior of the Philippine side has violated international law, and the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case. The award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it. Many countries, international and regional organizations have expressed their understanding of and support for China’s stand on the South China Sea issue.
In October, the new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visited China, with the two sides agreeing to focus on cooperation and shelve differences, and jointly bring the South China Sea issue back to the right track of seeking a solution through bilateral negotiations by parties directly involved.
Through the joint efforts of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the Philippines, the South China Sea situation has been easing off and is developing in a positive direction.
7. TURKEY’S RELATIONS WITH WEST PLUMMET AFTER FAILED COUP
On July 15, some Turkish soldiers initiated a coup d’etat but were suppressed hours later. More than 200 people were killed and 2,000 injured during the failed coup and subsequent conflicts in various regions.
The Turkish government claimed the failed coup was organized by followers of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan then started a large-scale crackdown on coup-related personnel.
The European Union and the United States blamed Ankara for its “disproportionate repressive measures” in response to the failed military coup. The European Parliament proposed to temporarily freeze Turkey’s accession talks to join the EU.
In response, Turkey accused Western countries of blatanly interfering in its domestic affairs. Turkey’s relationship with the West plummeted to rock bottom.
8. RMB’S INCLUSION IN SDR SUPPLEMENTS INT’L MONETARY SYSTEM
On Oct. 1, the Renminbi (RMB, Chinese yuan) joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket, a supplement to a shortfall of preferred foreign exchange reserve assets, namely gold and the U.S. dollar.
Among the five currencies in the basket, the RMB is the only currency from a newly-emerged economy, with a weight of 10.92 percent just after the U.S. dollar and the euro, but before the Japanese yen and the British pound.
The RMB’s inclusion in the SDR basket is a milestone in the RMB’s internationalization journey, and shows the world’s acceptance of China’s economic development and financial reform.
The inclusion also supplements the international monetary system, and helps protect global financial stability.
9. TRUMP WINS U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
In the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8, Republican candidate Donald Trump defeated his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton to become the country’s new president.
The chaotic presidential campaign revealed the grim reality of partisanship, political divide and racial tension in the country. The world is casting its eye on the future policies of the Trump administration.
10. CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY LEADER FIDEL CASTRO PASSES AWAY
On Nov. 25, Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro passed away at the age of 90.
Castro was the founder of the Cuban Communist Party and Cuba’s socialist cause. He led the Cuban revolution to establish a new government in 1959.
For decades, Castro had led the Cubans to fight painstakingly to safeguard Cuba’s national sovereignty and deal with the serious difficulties caused by the United States’ long-standing economic blockade, greatly contributing to the development of the world’s socialist cause.
Castro was also the founder, protector and promoter of the China-Cuba relationship. Enditem