The following are the top 10 world news events of the year 2002, selected by Xinhua. The events are arranged in chronological order:
1. Euro begins official circulation in 12 European countries
After a three-year transitional period, the euro became the legal tender in 12 of the European Union's 15 member states at the beginning of the new year. More than 300 million Europeans bid farewell to their national currencies and started their life with the common money, which marked the completion of the European single currency system.
In response to a series of suicide bombings committed by Palestinian militants, Israeli troops launched, after March 29, several large-scale incursions into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and besieged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah several times. Reprisals between the two sides, which have killed over a thousand people, are escalating into a vicious cycle.
3. Corporate scandals hit US economy
Following the Enron accounting fraud, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in April brought civil fraud charges against Xerox, which had improperly reported 4.5 billion US dollars in revenue over the past five years. WorldCom, one of the largest telecommunication giants in the United States, filed for bankruptcy protection in July after similar accounting failures.
Harvey Pitt, chairman of the SEC, resigned on Nov. 5 following the US Congress passing the Sarbanes-Oxley law, which will oversee the audits of the financial statements of public companies through rigorous registration, standard setting, inspection and disciplinary programs.
The total costs of corporate scandals in the United States were estimated at more than 5 trillion dollars, coming in plunging stocks, lost investment savings, jobs, pension losses and tax revenue.
On May 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed with US President George W. Bush in Moscow a nuclear disarmament treaty and a strategic partnership agreement.
Under the treaty, the two countries will each slash nuclear arsenals by two-thirds, with their deployed nuclear warheads to be reduced from the currently allowed 6,000 to between 1,700 and 2,200 over the next decade.
5. OAU officially transforms into AU
On July 9, African leaders convened in Durban, South Africa, the first summit of the African Union (AU), marking the official launch of a new regional political organization.
During the two-day summit of the AU, which replaced the 39-year-old Organization of African Unity (OAU), the participants addressed a series of major issues, including the transformation of the OAU into the AU, challenges facing the African continent as well as the rules and procedures of key organs of the AU.
6. Chechen rebels take hundreds hostage in Moscow
A gang of Chechen gunmen seized a Moscow theater on Oct. 23, where they took more than 700 people hostage, and demanded withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya. Russian special forces stormed the theater on Oct. 26, freeing most of the hostages and killing 32 hostage-takers. A total of 128 hostages died during the rescue operation.
7. CPC's 16th National Congress rivets world attention
On Nov. 8-14, the 16th National Congress of the Communist Partyof China (CPC) was held in Beijing. The congress, which elected CPC's new leadership and put forward the objective of building a well-off society in an all-round way in China, attracted world-wide attention.
More than 50 heads of state and government, and some 300 political parties and organizations in 140 nations sent congratulatory messages to the CPC and its leaders. They spoke highly of China's aim to build a well-off society in an all-round way and expressed confidence in the future of the CPC and China.
On Nov. 8, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1441, which Iraq agreed to unconditionally accept, and on Nov. 27, arms inspections in Iraq were resumed after a four-year break.
On Dec. 7, the Iraqi government submitted to the United Nations a 13,000-page arms declaration, in which Baghdad denied having any weapons of mass destruction. But the United States rejected the document as "another material breach" of Security Council resolutions and kept on preparing for possible war against Iraq.
In January, the United States, which branded Iraq as part of an "axis of evil," accused Baghdad of continuing to produce and stockpile weapons of mass destruction, and threatened to use all possible means to disarm Iraq.
9. NATO expands further eastwards
At the Prague summit on Nov. 21-22, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decided to invite Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to join the 19-nation alliance, which will be expanded to a bloc of 26 members in 2004.
This move will be the largest round of enlargement in NATO's 53-year history.
Venezuelan opposition staged a nation-wide strike on Dec. 2, demanding immediate resignation of President Hugo Chavez, who has refused to hold an early referendum before next August or resign immediately.
The strike crippled the oil industry in Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, with its oil production reduced to only about 200,000 from 2.8 million barrels per day. The shutdown of oil exports from Venezuela helped push oil prices on the international market to their highest levels in two years.
In April, President Chavez was briefly ousted in a military-led coup and was later restored to power by his supporters. (Xinhua News)