2018: Events that shaped the world | Daily News


 

2018: Events that shaped the world

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with South Korean President Moon Jae.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with South Korean President Moon Jae.

As the year draws to a close, we take a look at some of the key events that shaped our world in 2018.

South Korea-North Korea friendship soars

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reached out to South Korean President Moon-Jae to meet for talks in Pyongyang. This eventually led to talks between Un and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June. The two Korean leaders have since met several times and just this week, work was started on physically linking the railway systems of the two countries. However, sanctions imposed on North Korea are still effective, but one cannot rule out eventual reunification in the decades to come.

New direction in China


Chinese President Xi Jinping

In March, China's Parliament decided to make certain changes that would allow President Xi Jinping to virtually rule for life. This has strengthened the hands of Xi, already one of the most powerful men in the world. This year, China also figured in a “trade war” with the United States, where President Trump charged that China was taking unfair advantage lax tariffs on the US side. However, the two sides have since reached a truce and compromise on many contentious trade issues.

President Putin gets stronger


US President Donald Trump greeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at Helsinki summit.

Also in March, Russian President Vladimir Putin was reelected, with the potential to rule at least until 2024. This was a mixed year for Russia, with the West implicating the country in the Salisbury nerve agent attack and various cyber attacks. Resident Putin also held a landmark summit with President Trump in Helsinki, where the latter was accused by the Western media of siding more or less with President Putin on the issue of cyber attacks despite assessments to the contrary by Western intelligence agencies. As the year draws to a close, we take a look at some of the key events that shaped our world in 2018.

Cuba – life without the Castros

Miguel Diaz-Canel became the Cuban President, after Raul Castro stepped aside. This marked the end of the Castro rule in Cuba after nearly six decades. While still firmly committed to the ideals of Fidel and Raul Castro, he has since opened up Cuba in many ways. It was only a few weeks ago that Cuba finally allowed its citizens to browse the Internet on smartphones. With direct flights from the US in full swing, tourism dollars are starting to make a difference in this island nation. A plane crash that killed over 100 people drove Cuba into mourning in May.

Royal Wedding


Royal wedding: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

In a world mired in conflict, a Royal Wedding is always a welcome respite. On May 18, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially tied the knot. Markle was already a household name in the US and UK as a well-known television actress and the wedding was a fairytale set in the real world. They even drove away in a retro electric Jaguar. Worldwide, billions of people were glued to their TV sets.

A stunning comeback for Mahathir

Malaysia’s Grand Old Man of politics, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made a stunning comeback at the elections held in May. At 93, he is the oldest serving prime minister or president anywhere in the world, Robert Mugabe having retired in 2017. Mahathir has promised to crack down on corruption and authorities have already charged former PM Najib Razak with over 25 accounts of corruption.

A new innings for Imran Khan


Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

Closer home, legendary cricketer Imran Khan won the elections held on July 25 in Pakistan, becoming Prime Minister. Khan, who led Pakistan to victory at the 1992 Cricket World Cup in Australia, faces great challenges ahead as he guides a nation driven apart by conflict, corruption and terrorism. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is facing jail time on corruption charges. Imran Khan has promised to get rid of corruption in Pakistani politics.

Better times ahead for Maldives


Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

In November, new Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took the oath of office after defeating strongman Abdulla Yameen in September 23 election. Maldives has been drifting on and off democracy, but this time there is hope for more stability and prosperity. It already has the highest Per Capita Income among the SAARC nations at over US$ 10,500 and consequently, it is the only developing country in South Asia to enjoy visa-free access for its citizens to many Western nations including the UK.

Jamal Khashoggi


Slain Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2 and was never seen alive again. Alerted by his fiancée who was waiting outside for him to emerge, Turkish officials concluded that he could have been slain inside the consulate. Saudi Arabia later admitted that he had indeed been killed and arrested 15 men allegedly responsible for the murder. It was later revealed that Turkish intelligence services had a recording of Jamal’s last moments as he was killed. This was one of the biggest news stories of the year. The incident has also brought into focus Saudi Arabia’s role in the war in Yemen which has already killed about 10,000 people with 20 million at risk of starvation.

New leaders, some on way out


Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May.

With nationalism and isolationism on the rise around the world, both Hungary and Italy saw such leaders emerge onto the political limelight. In Hungary, the far-right Viktor Orban has taken a strictly anti-immigrant stance. The same story holds true in Italy where New Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has expressed similar views. In Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel holds diametrically opposite views, her party has already chosen her successor - Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer or AKK as she is often called (mainly to get around the difficult pronunciation). In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May barely survived a confidence vote, but her Brexit plans have been widely criticized. There is every chance that Brexit might not even happen, as people have now realized that Vote Leave was apparently based on a heap of lies. In Brazil former Army captain Jair Bolsonaro was elected as Brazil’s new president while in Mexico, Andrés Manuel Luís Obrador (AMLO) was elected President.

Climate Change and Natural Disasters

In a recently released report, the UN warned that the world has only 12 more years (until 2030) to mitigate the effects of climate change or face the point of no return. The US Government too released a similar report but the US itself has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. However, world leaders who gathered last month in Poland reiterated their commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Pact. Freak weather events caused by climate change occurred throughout the world. Although not related to climate change per se, Indonesia was hit by two devastating tsunamis in the space of six months.

Government shutdown in US

One of President Trump’s main campaign planks was a “border wall” to keep Mexican and Latin American migrants away from the US. This issue has led to a partial government shutdown in the US, where President Trump is seeking at least US$ 5 billion for building the wall. His Defence Secretary James Mattis resigned over plans to pull US troops out of Syria. However, all of Washington came together to mourn the passing away of the Grand Old Man of US Politics, President George H.W. Bush. In other US news, On May 8, President Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 accord that limits Iran’s nuclear weapons programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions against the Islamic republic. On May 14, the United States opened its new Embassy in Jerusalem.

Good things happened too

We often hear of conflicts, but peace deals were also made. Ethiopia and Eritrea ended hostilities and established diplomatic relations.

The rescue of a 12 members of a boys’ football team trapped in a flooded Thai cave in July became a worldwide sensation. The #MeToo Movement against sexual harassment recorded many victories.

A worldwide campaign has begun against the use of single-use plastics including straws. It was reported that dog meat was on the way out in many countries including South Korea. And in what surely is the most inspiring story of the year, seven year old Archie Schiller, who suffers from congenital heart disease, was made honourary captain of the Australian cricket team for the Boxing Day Test against India.

Thousands of spectators watched as the little boy shook hands with the Indian captain at the coin toss, signalling the start of the match.

“He was just on top of the world to be out there with the team, I've never seen him smile so much,” his mother Sarah Schiller told the BBC. For the young cricket fan, he was granted his dream “to captain Australia” by Cricket Australia and the Make-A-Wish Foundation charity.

Archie was diagnosed with a heart condition at birth, and underwent open-heart surgery at three months and he has undergone 13 surgeries in total. If this story does not move you to tears, you are not human. Let’s hope that 2019 will be a year of more good news for all the people of the world, that is facing many challenges. 


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