The following are the top 10 world news events in the year 2004 selected by Xinhua:
1. Bird flu plagues 10 countries and regions in Asia
Bird flu spread early this year across 10 Asian countries and regions, including China. Tens of millions of poultry died of the disease or were slaughtered to check a possible further outbreak. A few cases of human death due to infection also occurred in Vietnam, Thailand and other countries. Poultry products from those countries were embargoed by many places.
2. NASA rovers Opportunity, Spirit arrive on Mars
The rovers of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Opportunity and Spirit, landed safely on Mars and kicked off their research in January. They have sent back tens of thousands of photos over the past year and found evidence that water once existed on the Red Planet. It is the mankind's first-ever field geological study of another planet.
3. Deadly terror attacks intensified in some countries
About 50 people were killed and more than 130 others injured when a deadly blast ripped through a crowded metro car in Moscow during the morning rush hour in February. Explosions hit two Iraqi mosques in March, leaving 271 dead and 500 wounded.
Also in March, bombings rocked four commuter trains in the Spanish capital of Madrid, claiming 196 lives and wounding more than 1,500 people.
In Russia, two airliners crashed almost simultaneously in August, causing 89 deaths on board. Evidence showed that the two passenger planes were brought down by terrorist acts.
In September, armed militants seized a secondary school in the town of Beslan in Russia's North Ossetia Republic and took more than 1,000 children, teachers and parents hostage. A total of 331 people died and over 700 others were injured in the tragedy.
4. US abuse of Iraqi POWs shocks the world
The US television channel CBS TV released photographs on April 28 showing US soldiers abusing Iraqi inmates in a Baghdad prison. It drew worldwide scathing condemnation against US double standards on human rights. US President George W. Bush and Whitehouse officials had to apologize for the scandal. The suspects have been sent to martial courts for trial.
5. The European Union embraces 10 new members
The European Union (EU) saw the largest enlargement in history when Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta officially joined the bloc on May 1. It turned the organization into the world's largest regional economy and free trade zone with 25 members.
Leaders of the EU members also signed the bloc's Constitution Treaty in Rome on October 29, taking a new step towards European integration.
6. Arafat dies in French military hospital
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died of illness at the age of 75 at the Percy French military hospital outside Paris on November 11. The Palestinian leadership made a smooth power transition and the presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for Jan. 9, 2005. Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to resume contacts.
7. Chinese President Hu's high-profile visit to Latin America
Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Cuba on November 11-23, and attended the 12th informal leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Chile's Santiago. On the sidelines of the meeting, Hu met with US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Also during the visit, China and the four Latin American nations signed 39 cooperation agreements. Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Peru announced the recognition of China's full market economy status. Chile also started free trade talks with China.
8. Ukrainian presidential elections trigger political crisis
Ukraine's presidential run-off was held on November 21, in which Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych contested with opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. The electoral committee announced on November 24 that Yanukovych won the presidency, but Yushchenko refused to accept the result on the ground of fraud. Ukraine's Supreme Court annulled the runoff results on December 3 and ordered a rerun on December 26. After Yushchenko was announced the winner in the revoting, Yanukovych refused to concede a defeat and filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn the result. The political crisis remained raveled till Wednesday.
9. Deadly tsunamis triggered by strong earthquake in Indonesia caused heavy losses
On December 26, a strong earthquake, with a magnitude of 8.7 according to the China Seismological Bureau and 9 according to the US Geological Survey, occurred off the northern tip of Indonesia's island of Sumatra. The ensued tsunamis triggered by the powerful quake jolted Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Somalia, Seychelles and Kenya, causing heavy losses. The death toll has topped 80,000 on Wednesday.
10. Global economy growth is expected to hit 30-year high
The global economic growth in 2004 is expected to reach 5 percent, the highest in 30 years.
The US, the euro zone and Japan would see a growth of 4.3 percent, 2.2 percent and 4.4 percent respectively. The developing countries could post a 6.6 percent growth rate, with that in Asia expected to amount to 7.6 percent, in Latin America 4.6 percent and in Africa 4.5 percent.
But high oil prices and the drastic depreciation of the US dollar might have a negative impact on the world economy to achieve sustainable development.
(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2004)