Special Report>> Yearender 2012
BEIJING, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- The following were the top 10 news events around the world in 2012 as selected by Xinhua (in chronological order):
1. U.S. SHIFTS MILITARY FOCUS TO ASIA-PACIFIC REGION
On Jan. 5, U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled a strategic defense guideline that vowed a stronger military presence in the Asia-Pacific region despite defense budget cuts.
On June 2, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that, by 2020, the U.S. Navy would re-position its forces from a roughly 50-50 percent split between the Pacific and the Atlantic to about a 60-40 split.
In November, Obama visited Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia in his first foreign tour after re-election, highlighting Asia's growing importance to the U.S.'s global strategy.
2. EGYPT'S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD COMES TO POWER
On Jan. 21, the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, won the largest number of seats, or 47.2 percent, in the lower house of parliament.
On June 30, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as the country's first freely elected president in 30 years and thus the Islamist group officially took over the largest Arab country.
Arab countries including Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Egypt have all experienced regime change since turbulence and violence beset West Asia and North Africa, with Islamist parties gaining governmental or parliamentary advantages in many countries in the region.
3. RELIGIOUS ISSUES TRIGGER ANTI-U.S. WAVE
On Feb. 21, four people were killed and more than 200 others were injured when thousands of Afghans demonstrated over a report that foreign soldiers burned copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.
On Sept. 11, the U.S. ambassador and three other employees were killed during an armed assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya's Benghazi. Several thousand Libyans surrounded the U.S. embassy in protest at a movie the Muslim community deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.
The movie infuriated the Muslims worldwide and sparked protests and assaults against U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Tunis, widening the conflict between the U.S. and the Islamic world.
4. U.S. MARS ROVER TOUCHES DOWN ON RED PLANET
On Aug. 6, NASA's Mars rover, Curiosity, loaded with the most sophisticated instruments used to explore another world, touched down on the red planet seeking signs of past and present habitable environments.
Mars is the chief component of NASA's long-term deep space exploration plans. U.S. President Barack Obama has set a goal of astronauts orbiting Mars by the mid-2030s followed by a landing.
5. RUSSIA BECOMES OFFICIAL MEMBER OF WTO
Russia officially became the 156th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Aug. 22 after 18 years of laborious negotiations. By including Russia, with a population of 143 million and ranked 11th globally in terms of nominal GDP, the WTO now covers 98 percent of global trade.
The organization said Russia's accession would help the country integrate into the global economy, stabilize the trade environment, and promote universal trade rules.
6. JAPAN'S "ISLAND PURCHASE" CHALLENGES POSTWAR INTERNATIONAL ORDER
Despite China's repeated opposition and protests, the Japanese government on Sept. 10 decided to "purchase" and "nationalize" China's Diaoyu Islands, flagrantly violating China's territorial sovereignty and challenging the postwar international order.
The island-buying farce severely inflamed relations between China and Japan and alerted the international community to the rise of Japanese right-wing hardliners.
7. SYRIA'S ANTI-GOV'T REVOLT ACCELERATES INTO ARMED CONFLICT
Syria's 20-month-old crisis deepened after the Free Syrian Army announced on Nov. 7 its battle to "liberate Damascus" had moved into the second phase, turning the political center and its surrounding areas into the main battle field between government forces and armed rebels.
Syria's opposition formed a new bloc called the National Coalition for the Opposition Forces on Nov. 11, which was recognized by the United States the following month.
Some foreign countries have been openly supporting the opposition with arms and cash, complicating efforts to find a political solution. Mediation by the UN and the Arab League has yet to succeed.
8. CHINA'S 18TH CPC NATIONAL CONGRESS ATTRACTS WORLD ATTENTION
The 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress was convened in Beijing from Nov. 8 to 14. The congress agreed to incorporate the Scientific Outlook on Development into the CPC Constitution as the party's action guideline, along with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important principle of the Three Represents. It also nailed down the goal of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
The first plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, held after the national congress, elected China's new CPC leadership.
The international community paid great attention to and praised the congress as a milestone, saying it set the direction for China's future development.
They believed China, under the new leadership, would carry on the policy of reform and opening up, play a significant role in the world arena by being an active and responsible major power, and work with other countries to tackle global challenges, injecting fresh vigor to world peace and development.
9. DOHA CLIMATE TALKS REACH AGREEMENT ON 2ND PERIOD OF KYOTO PROTOCOL
The United Nations climate conference, held from Nov. 26 to Dec. 9 in the Qatari capital of Doha, adopted a package of drafts for a second period of the Kyoto Protocol.
The agreement, to apply from 2013 till 2020, stuck to the "common but differentiated" principle and safeguarded the basic institutional framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol.
However, the developed countries, diluting their historical responsibilities and the "common but differentiated" principle and lacking the political will to reduce emissions and transfer technology, have become the main obstacle to international efforts to counter climate change.
10. EUROPE'S DEBT CRISIS DRAGS ON GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY
Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund clinched an agreement on Nov. 27 to reduce Greek debt and release a fresh 44-billion-euro (57-billion-U.S. dollar) bailout tranche to Athens, yet, uncertainties remained on whether Greece would quit the eurozone.
Meanwhile, Spain, which also plunged into a crisis, has officially requested a European Union bailout worth 37 billion euros (48 billion dollars), and France's debt rating was downgraded by both Standard & Poor's and Moody's rating agencies.
All these suggest the European debt crisis, far from being cured, is still the main obstacle to global economic recovery.