1. The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency
Following his victory in the 2016 Presidential Election, billionaire-turned-politician Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States on January 20 under the slogan ‘America First’.
President Trump began carrying-out the promises he made in his action plan such as deporting illegal immigrants, denying entrance to Muslims in order to prevent terrorist activities in the US, increasing employment, cutting unnecessary spending in the fight against climate change and withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. The US President signed a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, and withdrew the US from the Paris Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
In his latest move, the US President has made a decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which sparked a clash between Palestinian protesters and Israel troops.
2. Impeachment of South Korean President over corruption scandal
The fight against corruption is going strong in many countries around the world, especially in the Republic of Korea where the President was ousted over bribery and abuse of power allegations. President Park Geun-hye was dismissed from her post on March 10, after repeated demonstrations and protests organized by the Korean people demanding her removal from office. The former President is currently held under arrest at a detention center near Seoul.
Following the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, South Korea held a Presidential Election in May, which was won by Moon Jae-in, a son of refugees from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. A lawyer by profession, Moon Jae-in was in the South Korean Special Forces. Although President Moon Jae-in had been seeking dialogue with Pyongyang, the former has been disappointed by the latter’s sixth nuclear test and repeated launch of a ballistic missile this year.
3. The soaring price of Bitcoin
Since the beginning of 2017, rates of digital currency bitcoin increased sharply, and as of December 12, it exceeded USD 18 thousand, which made it popular among businessmen and ordinary people. Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency-based blockchain technology, introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto in October 2008. One bitcoin was equal to USD 1 in 2010, but has increased 16-18 thousand times today.
The Winklevoss twins, famously known for suing Mark Zuckerberg after claiming he stole their idea for Facebook, are now Bitcoin billionaires. They bought bitcoin by USD 11 million in 2013 when one bitcoin was USD 120. However, as the bitcoin price exceeded USD 11 thousand, the twins became billionaires.
On the other hand, experts consider bitcoin a fraud and a method to earn money in an easy way due to its sharp price fluctuation and hacking threats.
4. Rohingya crisis in Myanmar
In contrast to its globally appreciated efforts in democratic transition, Myanmar caught worldwide attention in a negative context in 2017. Nine police officers were killed in August in Rakhine State, which was thought to be the work of Rohingya rebels by the Myanmar Security Forces who then began conducting military operations against the militants. Thus it led to 640 thousand innocent Rohingya people fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.
The United Nations repeatedly defined the operations of the Myanmar Security Forces as ‘ethnic cleansing’, calling for the Myanmar Government led by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to resolve the refugee crisis. The Myanmar Government says it is fighting the militants. In connection with the Rohingya crisis, Aung San Suu Kyi has been stripped of her ‘Freedom of Oxford’ award by demand of many people, who also say the former doesn’t deserve her Nobel Prize.
5. Hollywood scandal raises awareness on sexual misconduct
Sexual misconduct and harassment scandals have been a major global agenda in 2017. It all began with a New York Times article exposing numerous sexual abuse allegations against famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein who was disgraced as the number of actresses who accused him of sexual harassment continued to increase. The scandal turned into a global sexual abuse awareness movement as more Hollywood figures were exposed. The awareness spread beyond the entertainment industry, and entered politics. As a result, several US Congressmen have resigned.
Time magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year was a group of women called Silence Breakers who spoke out against sexual assault.
6. A new era for China’s socialism
The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) took place in Beijing this October. The political summit is held once every five years, and this year over 2000 delegates from all over China gathered in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. During his opening speech, President Xi Jinping declared his resolution to begin a “new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics”. He presented the party’s achievements during last five years and outlined the priorities for the next 5 years.
Dubbed as the ‘Most Powerful Chinese Leader’ since Mao Zedong, Xi Jinping was re-elected as General Secretary of the CPC. During his previous term, he led the fight against corruption and poverty. As a result, the past five years saw China’s economy maintain consistent growth and 60 million people rose out of poverty. By 2020, China aims to bring another 40 million above the poverty line.
7. Major achievements in science and technology
2017 has proven to be a ripe year for science and technology. A group of scientists from Spain introduced a prototype for a 3D bioprinter that can create totally functional human skin, complete with three layers - epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. A team comprising scientists from the US, Scotland and Switzerland were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work in developing cryo-electron microscopy. Their method allows labs to deduce high-resolution protein structures by firing a beam of electron at a frozen protein solution.
Competition between tech giants Apple and Samsung continues in the smart phone market. Earlier in September, Apple announced the iPhone X, its much anticipated 10th anniversary phone, along with iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Samsung, on the other hand, expanded their Galaxy line by introducing Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus and Galaxy Note 8. The company is seeking to rebuild its reputation and profit after its recall of the faulty Galaxy Note 7s last year.
8. DPRK’s 6th nuclear test and frequent missile launches
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has conducted frequent nuclear tests and launched ballistic missiles this year. In 2017, the country fired ballistic missiles 20 times, of which two were fired over Japan. In addition, the country tested a hydrogen bomb in early September this year. It was its 6th nuclear test, the strongest ever.
In regard to its nuclear tests and the launch of ballistic missiles, states including the USA and the United Nations have pressured the DPRK with harsh sanctions. For instance, in his first address to the UN last September, US President Donald Trump warned, "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy the country." In response to Trump’s threats, Pyongyang stated it will not stop its nuclear program, but advance more, citing its capacity to hit the US mainland.
9. Russian athletes banned to compete under Russian flag
In early December, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Russian athletes to compete in 2018 Games in Pyeongchang under the Russian Flag because the country’s team was found to have broken doping rules. It was one of the sensational events of 2017.
The IOC stated that Russian athletes can compete in the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but the athletes will have to pass strict scrutiny, and instead of wearing their nation's uniform, they will compete under the title ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).’ “They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag,” the IOC said.
10. Liberation of Syria from terrorists
The conflict in Syria, which has made the country a major hot zone in recent years, is gradually stabilizing. Almost the entire territory of Syria, including historic Christian regions, has been liberated from terrorists.
The Syrian civil war began in 2011 with pro-democracy protests against the government, demanding resignation of President Assad. The Government's use of force to crush the dissent merely hardened the protesters' resolve. With escalation of violence in the country, terrorist groups led by the so-called Islamic State strengthened their grip on the war-torn country. The Syrian troops began military operations against the militants in 2015 with the help of Russia's air force. As a result, Syria was fully liberated from terrorists, reported the Russian army in early December this year. International observers consider that the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Syria and his command to withdraw Russian army is an indication of Syria’s stabilizing situation.
It was recently reported that the Iraqi military has fully liberated all of Iraq's territory of ‘ISIS terrorist gangs’ and has retaken full control of the Iraqi-Syrian border.