RCEP takes effect, sending a strong voice of Asia on integration
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) officially entered into force on Jan. 1, marking the launch of a free trade area with the biggest population, the largest trade scale and the greatest potential for development. Over the past year, the proportion of tariff-free products among member states has increased by a large margin, trade and investment have been further liberalized and facilitated, and regional industrial, supply and value chains have been further consolidated and developed. Against the backdrop of rising anti-globalization sentiments and a sluggish world economic recovery, China is working with all parties to advance regional economic integration, promote common development and prosperity, and improve global economic governance. The entry into force of the RCEP once again demonstrates that common development is the trend of history and mutual benefit is the aspiration of people.
Tonga volcano erupts with rare ferocity
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano of the Pacific island nation of Tonga erupted on Jan. 14-15 and triggered a tsunami. The eruption was more powerful than any nuclear test or any 20th century volcanic eruption. The 57-km plume was the highest ever recorded and the first observational one breaking through the stratosphere and directly into the mesosphere. The impact of the eruption on the global environment and climate has attracted wide attention. The international community has extended a helping hand to Tonga. The Chinese government took the lead in providing the first batch of emergency relief supplies, demonstrating with concrete actions the vision of building a human community with a shared future.
The Ukraine crisis accelerates changes unseen in a century.
Russia on Feb. 24 launched a special military operation against Ukraine, which, on the same day, declared martial law. The United States and other NATO countries have continued to fan the flames, imposing sanctions on Russia and providing military aid to Ukraine. Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership. Explosions damaged Nord Stream gas pipelines. The Ukraine crisis has escalated geopolitical tensions in Europe, leading to a global shortage of energy and food supplies, among other problems. Facing the crisis, most countries have refused to follow suit and impose sanctions on Russia. China has always stood on the side of peace and played a constructive role in promoting peace and talks. In the wake of this crisis, the trend towards a multipolar world has become more pronounced, and the profound changes unseen in a century have accelerated across the world.
Fed’s aggressive rate hikes scourge the global economy.
The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 25 basis points on March 16 to stem a surge in inflation, beginning its new round of rate-hiking cycle. Throughout this year, the Fed has raised interest rates seven times in a row, with a cumulative increase of 425 basis points. The Fed’s aggressive rate hikes have caused the exchange rates of many currencies to fall to historic lows, the imported inflationary pressure to increase sharply, the risk of debt default to rise, and the financial markets to swing wildly. The U.S. tightening of liquidity has pulled up the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar and transferred the crisis outward, which has led to the tightening of global financial conditions and the slowdown of world economic growth, wreaking havoc on emerging economies and developing countries, especially underdeveloped countries.
Highlights abound in humankind’s space exploration.
The year of 2022 marks continuous progress in humankind’s exploration of the vast universe. On May 12, astronomers around the world, including China, unveiled the first-ever image of Sagittarius A, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. On July 11, the United States released the first full-color image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. On Sept. 26, NASA conducted its first planetary defense test mission, with a spacecraft intentionally slammed into an asteroid in a test to protect Earth in case of an asteroid impact threat.
China has also made continuous efforts in space exploration. In June, China successfully launched its crewed Shenzhou-14 spaceship, sending three astronauts to the country’s space station. In November, China’s space station lab module Mengtian successfully completed in-orbit transposition, marking the formation of the space station’s basic T-shape configuration. On Nov. 30, the three astronauts aboard China’s Shenzhou-15 spaceship entered the country’s space station and met with the Shenzhou-14 spaceship’s astronaut trio, a historic gathering. China’s space station has become the most dazzling “China star” in space.
The 20th CPC National Congress concludes with far-reaching significance to the world. On Oct. 22, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded successfully in Beijing. The congress has demonstrated to the world the bright prospects of advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization, and delivered a strong signal that China will continue to deepen opening-up and cooperation with the outside world, and promote world peace and development in the new era, all of which have received broad resonance worldwide. It is widely acknowledged in the international community that the 20th CPC National Congress has far-reaching significance to the world, injecting strong stability into the complex and volatile international situation. Under the strong leadership of the CPC, China will continue to provide new opportunities for the world through new development, and continue to promote the building of a human community with a shared future and a better world.
Strong left-wing comeback in LatAm reshapes the political landscape.
Defeating his rival, Brazil’s leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected president on Oct. 30. His election followed the victory of Colombia’s leftist Gustavo Petro in June, who became the first elected leftist president in the country’s history. By the end of 2022, populous countries in Latin America, namely Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela and Chile, have all elected leftist governments, and how to revitalize the economy and improve people’s livelihood is a realistic challenge facing leftist governments in the region. The strong comeback of the left-wing has not only profoundly changed the political landscape of Latin America, but also that of the world.
Countries jointly explore ways to co-exist with nature.
On Nov. 6, the World Meteorological Organization published a report saying that the past eight years are likely to be the hottest on record. In 2022, many countries have experienced unprecedented high temperatures and subsequent severe droughts and forest fires. Pakistan and Afghanistan have suffered from severe floods. Protecting Earth has become all the more imperative. At the end of the year, the conferences of the parties to the three global pacts for the environment were held one after another. The 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands adopted the Wuhan Declaration, the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded with a slew of fruitful outcomes, and the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, demonstrating the resolve and action of the international community to work together for a clean and beautiful world.
Persistent COVID-19 pandemic profoundly shapes the world.
The persistent COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous damage to people’s lives and health, had a profound impact on the world economy and people’s work and life, and exacerbated supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.. Putting people and their lives first, the Chinese government has been optimizing its response measures, and has achieved major positive results in coordinating epidemic prevention and control with socioeconomic development. Countries worldwide should focus on the common well-being of mankind, step up macro-policy coordination, and strengthen international cooperation in such areas as repairing industrial and supply chains, public health, trade and finance, and food and energy security.
China’s head-of-state diplomacy writes a new chapter for the times. On Dec. 10, Chinese President Xi Jinping returned to China after attending the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit and paying a state visit to Saudi Arabia. This year, Xi declared the 24th Olympic Winter Games of Beijing open, drawing world attention. The Chinese president made three trips abroad, visited five countries, presided over or attended multilateral meetings including the Virtual Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations Between China and Central Asian Countries, the China-Arab States Summit, the China-GCC Summit, the 14th BRICS Summit, the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the 17th Group of 20 Summit and the 29th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, and held talks with leaders of countries and international organizations, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President of the European Council Charles Michel and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Upholding peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, China’s head-of-state diplomacy has pushed the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative for more results, built broad consensus and pooled great strength for safeguarding world peace and promoting common development.