Looking Back at Xi's Displomacy
China moves from a 'low-profile' diplomatic outlook to a more engaged and globally conscious approach
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UPDATED: December 23, 2014 NO. 52 DECEMBER 25, 2014
Top 10 World News Stories of 2014

A customer fuels his vehicle at a gas station in Miami, Florida, on December 8 (CFP)

Oil Price Decline

Oil prices fluctuated around a five-year low in mid-December as no signs have emerged that producers would cut production in response to the slump. Since June, international crude prices have experienced a rare and prolonged drop. The low oil price benefits many common people around the world, but is a disaster for big oil producers, especially Russia.

Though some analysts claim the major factors driving prices down are the sluggish global economy and imbalanced supply and demand, conspiracy theorists believe the current situation can be owed to games between the West and Russia over the Ukraine crisis, by which the West aims to hit Russia's economy and force Moscow to give in. Due to the low oil price, the Russian ruble has depreciated sharply.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq's Sinjar town, walk toward the Syrian border on August 10 (CFP)

Rise of Radical Islam

A radical Islamist group named the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria rapidly emerged as a highly destructive force in 2014 amid the incessant Syrian civil war. First established in 2006, the group has seized large swathes of territory in east Syria and across north and west Iraq. It declared the creation of a caliphate and changed its name to Islamic State (IS) in June.

The brutal tactics of the IS—including mass killings and abductions of members of Western religious and ethnic minorities, as well as the beheadings of soldiers and journalists—have sparked fear and outrage across the world and threatened regional security and even global stability. The United States, France and several Arab countries have launched air strikes on IS targets in Iraq and Syria since August, but with a large amount of funds it seized from banks when taking cities and revenues from the oil and gas fields it controls, the group remains formidable.

Pro-union supporters celebrate in Glasgow, Scotland, on September 19 as Scottish voters rejected independence in a referendum (CFP)

Scottish Independence Referendum

The long brewing referendum on Scottish independence was finally staged on September 18, but ended in failure when 55 percent of voters rejected independence. Analysts said the referendum was also a big move on the Scottish part to strive for practical interests. There are big conflicts between Scotland and the British Government over oil in the North Sea, which many Scottish people argue should be under the control of their own administration. Though the referendum failed, Scotland gained more rights of autonomy.

In addition, the referendum itself also encouraged separatist movements in other parts of Europe.

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