2022 was a tumultuous year with unexpected political and social changes in many countries. British people witnessed three prime ministers in a year; Japan’s longest-running former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed in the street; U.S. midterm elections Republican setback Trump wants to make a comeback; A hijab sparks nationwide protests in Iran that last for months; South Korea’s Halloween celebration triggers tragic stampede ……
Will the world be better in 2023?
#1 Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out, no sign of ceasefire yet.
The game between the West and Russia over NATO’s eastward expansion, Ukraine’s accession to NATO and gas supplies is intensifying from 2021. The U.S. has issued frequent warnings about Russia’s readiness to use force as Russia builds up a large force for military exercises on the Ukrainian border.
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has now been going on for 10 months and still shows no sign of ending. There are no exact figures for casualties from the conflict. The U.S. estimates that soldiers on both sides have suffered more than 100,000 casualties. There is speculation that the total number of casualties on both sides has reached 300,000.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Russia-Ukraine conflict turns into a confrontation between Russian and NATO military power with NATO’s strong support for Ukraine. Russia initially set the goals of demilitarization, de-Nazification and neutrality in Ukraine. None of these three goals have been achieved. Russia has now turned to holding the eastern part of Ukraine.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict and Western sanctions against Russia have had a series of ripple effects in addition to the standoff between the parties. European energy and global food crisis intensify. Many countries are entering historic hyperinflation. The United States announced that it will provide $1.85 billion worth of military aid to Ukraine including Patriot air defense missile systems. Russia-Ukraine Conflict will still continue in 2023. The U.S. has agreed to provide $21.9 billion in military aid to Ukraine.
#2. global central banks set off a wave of interest rate hikes, the shadow of recession looms.
Central banks around the world began raising interest rates this year in response to high inflation fueled by the energy crisis. Over the past 12 months, the world’s 10 major central banks have raised interest rates 54 times with a cumulative range of 2,700 basis points. IMF forecasts that global economic growth will slow to 2.7% in 2023. The economies of countries accounting for more than one-third of global output will experience a decline.
#3 Europe is experiencing an energy crisis and there will be a shortage of gas next year.
The EU also has directly experienced a collateral damage In the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Russia was a key source of energy for the EU Before the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The EU imports 45% of its natural gas, 29% of its crude oil and 46% of its coal from Russia.
The EU started to decouple from Russian energy in order to sanction Russia over the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The EU introduced an embargo on Russian coal, an embargo on Russian crude oil shipped by sea, price limits on Russian oil, and plans to gradually move away from dependence on Russian natural gas.
EU’s high prices for alternative sources push up gas prices due to Russian natural gas declines sharply. Electricity prices in the EU have also continued to reach record highs as natural gas prices are linked to electricity prices. The energy crisis has been further exacerbated by the extreme heat and drought that hit Europe this summer, which led to a significant drop in hydro and nuclear power production.
EU will continue to face energy shortages because of gas stocks deplete. The International Energy Agency warned that if Russia interrupts all gas supplies to the EU, the EU will face a shortfall of 27 billion cubic meters of gas next year. The United States jumped to become the world’s largest LNG exporter in this year.
#4 the U.S. midterm elections Republican Party setbacks, Trump wants to rise again.
The November 2022 midterm elections kick off against the backdrop of the worst inflation in the United States in 40 years. The polls before the election vote show that the economy has become a weak point for the Democrats, and the Republicans will easily take the House of Representatives, and even the Senate will be in the bag.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump also used the midterm elections as an early rehearsal for running in the 2024 election. He endorsed nearly 300 Republican candidates. Almost all of the key state candidates have received Trump’s support. Trump’s approval rating remains at 40%, the same as when he was president.
#5 How long can British Prime Minister Sunac stay in office. That’s a question.
The Britishhave witnessed the death of Queen Elizabeth II and three prime ministers in one year.
Former Prime Minister Johnson has been criticized by members of his party and the opposition for partying during the epidemic’s closure, improper initial epidemic response policies, and covering up a sex scandal involving members of the Conservative Party. Johnson announced his resignation as head of the Conservative Party in July.
Liz Truss launched the most radical tax cuts in the UK since 1972 in the face of high inflation in the UK which caused the currency, stock and bond markets falling together. The IMF even publicly warned about the UK’s new policy. Truss’s emergency replacement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer reversed almost all tax cuts.
Truss announced his resignation on October 20 and became the shortest-serving British prime minister since World War II.
After Truss stepped down, the Conservative Party fired up to elect its third prime minister this year, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak, who is also Britain’s first Indian-born prime minister. Sunac immediately carried out an across-the-board tax increase and drastic cuts in public spending to try to curb hyperinflation. Sunac’s own wealthy status has become a weakness. Some voters think Sunac is out of touch with reality and unable to solve the problem of high cost of living in Britain.
Britain sets off a nationwide wave of cross-industry strikes before the year ends. Sunac’s approval rating has also continued to fall. Some British officials have predicted that Johnson will be back as the British Prime Minister at the end of next year.
#6 Shinzo Abe’s assassination, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party to promote constitutional amendments.
On July 8, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan‘s longest continuous ruler, was shot and killed in the streets of Nara City. It has been Abe’s long-cherished wish to amend the Japanese Constitution and clarify the existence of the Self-Defense Forces. Shinzo Abe allowed the Self-Defense Forces to have a counterattack capability to attack enemy missile bases for the purpose of self-defense for the first time. The meeting also increased the defense budget to a record 6.8 trillion yen for fiscal year 2023.
#7. A headscarf triggers national protests, Iranian regime untouched.
The nationwide protests over a hijab in 2022 showcased the new demands of the Iranian public. The trigger for the Iranian protests was not economic and political issues, but women’s rights. Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was arrested by morality police for allegedly violating the dress code by not strictly wearing a headscarf, died in hospital after three days in a coma.
Amini’s death sparks nationwide protests. The protesters included Kurds as well as ordinary people disgruntled with the morality police. The protesters’ initial demands were in defense of women’s rights and personal freedoms. women became the main force of the protest. Some women burned their headscarves and veils in the streets.
#8 South Korea Halloween celebration triggers tragedy of trampling, investigation is still underway.
On October 29, South Korea celebrated the first Halloween without masks since the new crown epidemic. More than 100,000 people flocked to Itaewon in Yongsan-gu, Seoul to participate in the celebration. The carnival turned into a tragedy. The Itaewon stampede was the deadliest stampede in Korea, and the most deadly since the shipwreck of the Saetsu in 2014. The stampede killed 154 people and injured 149 others, 33 of them seriously. Most of the victims died from traumatic cardiac arrest caused by asphyxiation.
#9 RCEP officially entered into force, China’s exports to other member countries rose.
On January 1, 2022, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), initiated by ASEAN and negotiated over eight years, officially entered into force. RCEP is the largest FTA in the Asia-Pacific region, covering 15 countries and accounting for one-third of global GDP and trade.
The RCEP eliminates tariffs on thousands of products with the ultimate goal of zero tariffs on more than 90% of intra-regional trade in goods. The agreement also covers supply chains, digital financial cooperation, e-commerce, intellectual property rights, etc. RCEP members include the 10 ASEAN countries as well as China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
#10 UN climate conference attention drops as loss and damage fund comes out.
The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt did not generate as much attention as last year due to countries facing high inflation and Europe suffering from an energy crisis. However, it did not affect the intensity of the debate among the participants.
The disagreement among countries focused on whether to include “loss and damage” in the agenda and whether to establish a fund for it. “Loss and Damage” addresses the irreversible economic and non-economic costs of extreme weather events and long-term climate disasters, and aims to discuss whether and how wealthy countries that are responsible for historical emissions can compensate vulnerable countries for climate.
There is a strong demand from developing countries for a loss and damage fund, but developed countries are reluctant to talk about money. The delegates adopted a resolution declaring the establishment of a loss and damage fund under collective pressure from developing countries eventually.
Developed countries have pledged $100 billion a year to support developing countries to improve their capacity to address climate change at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. The commitment has not been implemented ever.