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                                                                                                                       Asean Affairs  January 2, 2014 

Global stories that hit the headlines in 2013

Disputes over island sovereignty

Disputes over territorial sovereignty of the seas between China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK) became more tense on November 23 after Beijing unilaterally declared an air defence identification zone (ADIZ), which overlaps territorial waters claimed by Japan and the RoK.

Political instability in several Southeast Asian nations

Thailand experienced a seriously political crisis in late October due to profound party conflicts. To put an end to continuous rallies by anti-government demonstrators, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, on December 9, announced the dissolution of the House of Representatives and confirmed that an early election will be held on February 2, 2014.

Meanwhile, political tension in Cambodia accelerated when the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party rejected the results of the July 28 general election, according to which the ruling Cambodian People's Party won 68 out of the 123 parliamentary seats.

New deals reached for Syria and Iran nuclear programme

Syria evaded a military attack in September after its President, Bashar al-Assad, with mediation by Russia, agreed to disarm its chemical arsenal.

After rounds of negotiations, Iran and the P5+1, including the UK, France, the US, Russia, China and Germany, reached a historic agreement on Tehran's nuclear programme on November 24, paving the way for a comprehensive and long-term solution to this issue.

US surveillance scandal

Former US intelligence worker Edward Snowden leaked information on June 6 that the National Security Agency (NSA) 's global surveillance programme had bugged telephone conversations of many world leaders. Snowden's revelations strained relations between the US and many countries, including its allies in Europe.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and former South African President Nelson Mandela pass away

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias, influential leader of the left-wing Fifth Republic Movement in Latin America, died on March 5 at the age of 58.

On December 6, Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, passed away at the age of 95. He is an anti-apartheid icon and considered one of the outstanding politicians of the 20th century.

Recovery of European economy

The Eurozone officially escaped from its longest-ever economic recession since being established in 1999. The positive growth rate of the GDP in many countries, led by Germany, marked the start of the economic recovery in the Eurozone. However, the gloomy situation in the employment market and the high rate of unemployment and public debt (equivalent to 92 per cent of GDP) resulted in the zone's economic recovery momentum to remain vulnerable.

US government shutdown for over two weeks

The disagreement on the public debt ceiling between the Democrats who control the Upper House and the Republicans who dominate the Lower House forced the US government to cease government spending from October 1-16, 2013. The shut down forced 250,000 public servants to remain out of work, deprived the country's economy of US$24 million and had a serious impact on the global economy.

Bali agreement to facilitate WTO negotiations

The World Trade Organisation, for the first time since its founding in 1995, reached agreement on reforming trade at its meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in December. The agreement was considered to be a breakthrough to promote the Doha negotiation round on global trade liberalisation launched by the WTO in 2001, but later deadlocked.

Typhoon Haiyan causes havoc in the Philippines

Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms in history, struck the Philippines on November 8, causing serious damage to the country. The storm was blamed for the deaths of more than 5,500 people, left about 1,600 others missing and made millions homeless.

Stem cell success

After 15 years of research, US scientists were successful in cloning stem cells from existing human cells using a technology similar to those used to create the cloned Dolly sheep in 1996. The success ushered in the prospect of curing fatal diseases such as Parkinsons, heart disease and spinal cord lesions.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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