by Sun Ruijun and Bao Erwen
BEIJING, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- The world has undergone
remarkable changes this year, but international security situation on the whole
remained stable with "peace" and "development" prevailing as the themes of the
In 2008, the world has continued moving toward
multi-polarization, resulting in a distinctive shift of international forces.
Globalization is developing in depth and regional cooperation is gathering
The world has been confronted with one hotspot issue
after another and non-traditional threats are increasing. The world economic
growth took a turn for the worse due to the outbreak of the global financial
In recent years, the international political
structure has transformed gradually from "one superpower coexisting with several
other powers," formed after the Cold War, to multi-polarization.
The transformation picked up speed this year, with
significant changes in the balance of international forces.
The United States has been acting as the world's only
superpower in 2008, but the financial turmoil, which broke out in Wall Street in
September, showed its vulnerability.
In addition, the country is still deep in trouble
with its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has undermined its international
Some analysts attributed the waning U.S. strength to
its policy of unilateralism and expansionism on international issues, and its
practice of a laissez-faire free market economy at home. It remains to be seen
what consequences of these policies will have on U.S. national strength.
By contrast, Russia's flexing of strong muscles in
the international political arena in the outgoing year indicated a marked
recovery of its strength.
After sending troops to Georgia in August, Moscow
announced itsrecognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and
established diplomatic ties with them.
Furthermore, the Russian military forces also carried
out operations in Latin America, which has long been considered the "backyard"
of the United States.
Washington, which has been pushing NATO's eastward
expansion and trying to deploy anti-ballistic missile systems in East Europe,
seemed to have no effective measures to deal with Russia's counterattack.
The growing strength of Russia has something to do
with its leaders' strong will to make their country regain world power status.
Over the past years Russia had seized the favorable opportunities by pursuing a
pluralistic and pragmatic diplomatic policy, reviving its national economy and
safeguarding its national interest.
Also in 2008, after standing the test of natural
disasters following the Wenchuan earthquake in May, China succeeded in hosting
the "truly exceptional" 29th Olympic Games in August. In October, the country
sent Shenzhou-7 spacecraft into orbit, accomplishing its first ever space walk.
China has showed to the world its overall national
strength is on constant increase following 30 years of reform and opening-up.
China has become one of the major engines for world economy and contributed
significantly to world economic growth.
Moreover, China has played more important roles in
international affairs, such as the financial summit and the informal meeting of
the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) this year.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) continued to
enhance its independence and influence in international affairs.
In March, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said their countries share a vision of a
"We need Britain and France at the heart of Europe, a
global Europe, that is reforming, open, flexible, outward-looking," the two
leaders said in a joint statement.
The outgoing 2008 has also seen a large number of
developing countries rise with increasing momentum.
From a geopolitical perspective, the center of world
power is shifting from both sides of the Atlantic to the western Pacific region,
as the emerging countries are mostly located in Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia,
South Asia and the Middle East.
This shows that the existing international system is
undergoing readjustment with new reshuffles and restructuring profoundly
changing the balance of power in the world.
GLOBALIZATION, REGIONAL COOPERATION
The in-depth development of economic globalization
has made economic ties and interdependence between countries even closer,
boosting the sustained growth of world economy, and benefiting many countries.
The Doha Round of talks of the World Trade
Organization, aimed at furthering global trade, remained deadlocked this year.
However, the financial summit and the 16th Leaders' Meeting of APEC in November
sent out a strong signal for boosting the talks and gave them fresh impetus.
Yet, economic globalization has not been plain
sailing this year.
Some developed nations, out of their selfish
interest, asked too much of their developing counterparts, leaving the Doha
Round of trade talks in an impasse.
After the outbreak of financial crisis, trade
protectionism gained ground in some developed nations. However, economic
globalization will continue despite twists and turns, as it is the inevitable
outcome that corresponds to the development of productive forces of today's
world, and constitutes the general trend of world economic growth.
It is hoped that developed nations would establish an
equal, mutually-beneficial and win-win partnership with developing nations, so
as to advance economic globalization toward balanced development, shared
benefits and win-win progress.
Regional integration is another highlight in 2008,
with regional and sub-regional cooperation further strengthened.
The EU continued to boost the process of its
integration. Except Ireland, the Czech Republic and Poland, all EU member
nations have ratified the Lisbon Treaty, signed by EU heads of state and
government in December 2007 and designed to reform EU institutions and
streamline decision-making in the ever-enlarging union.
A charter of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN),which was ratified by parliaments of 10 members of the regional
bloc and formally entered into force on Dec. 15, clearly set the strategic goal
of setting up an ASEAN community.
In Africa, the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) inaugurated a free trade area in August.
In October, the SADC and two other regional blocs,
the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa, held a summit in the Ugandan capital of Kampala to discuss Africa's
COMPLICATED SECURITY SITUATION
International security situation remained stable on
the whole this year despite sporadic traditional threats.
The U.S.-led NATO continued to take "containment"
measures against Russia. Meanwhile, Washington has reinforced its military
strength in East Asia.
The armed conflict between Georgia and Russia in
South Ossetia took the world by surprise. Observers noted however, the root
cause of the conflict lies in Russia's perceived threat to its strategic
security posed by NATO's continued eastward expansion that will recruit Georgia
and Ukraine as new members and Washington's insistence on deploying
anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, rather than the
apparent differences over South Ossetia's sovereignty.
The year 2008 has also seen new changes in some old
hotspot issues, and the emergence of some new hotspot issues.
The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula achieved a
breakthrough, but also encountered new obstacles.
After the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
(DPRK) formally submitted a declaration on its nuclear program, Washington
removed the country from the "list of state sponsors of terrorism."
But the two countries were far apart on the issue
concerning verification of the DPRK's declaration.
Iran's nuclear issue remained deadlocked. Tehran
refused to halt its sensitive uranium enrichment activities, while Western
nations threatened to launch a new round of sanctions against the country.
Iraq's security situation has improved, with violent
attacks on decline as compared with last year. Washington and the Iraqi
government reached a deal on the status of the U.S. forces stationed in the
country. But sectarian conflicts, political confrontation, terrorist activities
and the U.S. military presence were still threatening Iraq's stability.
As insufficient U.S. and NATO troops were unable to
deal effective blows to Taliban insurgents, Afghanistan underwent the most
turbulent year in 2008 since the fall of the Taliban regime, with at least 5,000
people killed in violent attacks this year.
In the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian leaders
failed to honor their commitment of a peaceful deal made at an international
meeting in the U.S. city of Annapolis last November.
Meanwhile, Fatah and Hamas, two major factions in
Palestine, were locked in frequent clashes due to different political views.
In November, the Sudanese government announced an
immediate ceasefire in the war-torn western region of Darfur to pave the wayfor
the Arab-sponsored peace negotiations with the rebel movements. But in July, a
prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) demanded an arrest warrant
for Sudanese President Omeral-Bashir, accusing him of "genocide" and other war
crimes committed in Darfur.
The ICC move set a precedent for an institution
transcending states prosecuting the incumbent leader of a sovereign state,
causing grave concerns among Middle Eastern and African nations, as the move
threatened the current international order based on the UN Charter.
In February, Kosovo's declaration of independence
drew mixed reactions from the international community, with Washington voicing
support and recognition for Kosovo's independence, EU nations holding different
views on the issue, and Serbia and Russia expresses strong opposition to
Moscow maintained that Kosovo's independence would
endanger the system of international law and leave negative consequences for the
Balkan region and the world at large.
In Thailand, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, different
political factions, as representatives of different interest groups, got into
furious disputes over election issues.
The year 2008 has also witnessed increasing
non-traditional security threats, including terrorism, climate change and
On Nov. 26, more than 200 people were killed and some
300 others injured in terror attacks in Mumbai, India's largest city.
Afghanistan and Pakistan also fell victim to terror attacks.
As for climate change, a disaster caused by freezing
rain and snow hit a large area in southern China. Hurricanes pounded Central
America and the Caribbean. More than 77,000 people were killed and nearly 56,000
people went missing in a severe tropical storm in Myanmar.
Since the beginning of 2008, more than 120 cases of
piracy occurred off Somalia, a war-torn country in Africa, with more than 30
ships hijacked and some 600 sailors held hostages.
As rampant piracy is posing increasing threats to
maritime trade and shipping, some countries were forced to use military force to
ensure the safety of their commercial vessels.
In September this year, a financial "tsunami" that
broke out in Wall Street, quickly turned into the most serious global financial
crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
According to the U.S. company Goldman Sachs &
Co., global financial institutions would suffer a loss of 1.4 trillion dollars
in the U.S. subprime crisis. Global financial crisis had already plunged the
United States, the euro zone and Japan into recession, and slowed down the
growth of emerging economies.
The International Monetary Fund has predicted a 3.7
percent growth rate for world economy this year, lower than the 2007 figure of
The global financial crisis is blamed on the
laissez-faire economic policy adopted by the U.S. government and its failure to
exercise effective financial regulation amid the dramatic expansion of financial
derivative products since early this century.
People expect the international community to draw
lessons from the crisis and undertake necessary reform of international
financial system in a comprehensive, balanced, incremental and result-oriented
way, so as to establish a new international financial order that is fair, just,
inclusive and orderly and fostering an institutional environment conducive to
sound global economic development.
As long as it joins forces, the international
community will be able to tackle all political, security and economic challenges
and continue to advance the world further toward justice, peace and prosperity,