BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Most inhabitants of the earth village, especially the commons who tend to be walk-ons in a twisting saga about erratic world politics, would heave a deep sigh of relief as the world made it through another year fraught with uncertainties.
While frowns are very likely to be worn by some European politicians for quite a while amid a rising tide of antagonism and isolationism, U.S. soybean farmers are ushering in a year of hopes as China and the United States start making joint efforts to break their trade stalemate.
And for the long-separated families on the Korean Peninsula, the much-anticipated thaw in progress on the peninsula is healing the wounds of the technically ongoing Korean War.
In the year of 2019, people are having high hopes for a better world despite varied perplexities.
EASED TRADE TENSIONS
In spite of all the fancy economic barometers boasted by politicians in Washington as stunts to convince people that the U.S. economy is showing a bounce, Rick Kimberley, a farmer who has been growing soybeans and corn for more than 40 years in Midwestern U.S. state of Iowa, has not gotten any inspiring news that could relieve him from the concerns of losing livelihood until recently.
On Wednesday, China and the United States concluded a three-day vice-ministerial talk in Beijing, and conducted "extensive, in-depth and detailed exchanges on trade and structural issues of common concern," in a bid to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries.
On the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina on Dec. 1, 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump agreed to prevent further escalation of the trade frictions and resolve the disputes through dialogue and consultation.
While exchanging congratulations on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China-U.S. diplomatic relations, Xi and Trump vowed to advance cooperative and constructive bilateral ties in the coming years "so as to better benefit the two peoples as well as the people of the rest of the world."
Under the pretext of national security, Washington slapped steep tariffs on Chinese imports worth billions of dollars and put up barriers against free trade across the Pacific, leaving tens of thousands of farmers, workers and small businesses at the forefront of a trade dispute that is raging globally.
Along with the trade tensions between the United States and other economies including the European Union (EU), Canada and Mexico, the world is faced with more problems that weigh heavily on the still vulnerable global economy.
For now, as the world's two largest economies agreed to sit down and deliberate over the possibility of ending their trade and economic disputes, Kimberley, along with others who have benefited from a globalized market and paid dearly for unilateral moves of Washington, hoped to see a better year in 2019.
EUROPE IN TRANSFORMATION
The time-honored unity between European countries has been put in peril as people in different parts of this continent are getting increasingly self-conscious about choosing their own paths of development in pursuit of a better world and a better life.
After frustrating setbacks in regional elections, Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party bid farewell to its veteran leader Angela Merkel who abandoned her race for the December re-election as the CDU leader, a position she had held for 18 years. Merkel announced that she would leave German politics entirely after her ongoing fourth term as the German Chancellor.
While Merkel's retreat was deemed to be the end of an era in European politics, Germany is not the only European country that has been undergoing tremendous political and social transformations.
With just several days to go until mid-January when the British parliament is about to vote on the Brexit deal agreed by the British government and the EU, British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been weighed down by Brexit, is still far from winning the general consent of the parliament.
Even though the British government and parliament are still haggling over how the country will conduct the divorce with the soon-to-be 27-member bloc, there are only two months away from March 29, a fixed date for the withdrawal with or without an all-satisfied deal.
As the British are just one step away from slipping the leash of the EU, people in France, including Lelorrain Denis, a 49-year-old French gardener with more than 20 years of working experience, have chosen to take to the streets to express both his discontent and expectation for the government, along with other protestors wearing yellow vests in the Netherlands, Portugal and Belgium.
"My life would deteriorate after retirement, and I am losing hope. The government indulges the rich people and neglects us," Denis told Xinhua under France's symbol of national pride, the Arc de Triomphe.
By far, many of the European countries beleaguered by the Yellow Vests movements have promised to make adjustments in their policies, rising the minimum wage and easing tax increases.
There is every chance that the Yellow Vests movements could soon lose steam after the demands of the demonstrators are addressed, but against the backdrop of a growing populist tendency on this land, the "anger and indignation" for government exuded in the movements could lead to earth-shaking changes to the political landscape of Europe in the years to come.
DETENTE ON KOREAN PENINSULA IN PROGRESS
For Min Byung-hyun, an 85-year-old South Korean grandfather, 2018 was a year for family reunion and self-redemption. In August, he reunited with his younger sister from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). They had never met since the Korean War broke out in 1950 when he fled alone to the southern side of the peninsula. Min said he was largely relieved from an emotional pain which has tormented him for decades.
Min's reunion with his long-lost sister was just a reverberation of a sequence of historic summits in 2018 -- three inter-Korean summits, three China-DPRK summits and the first-ever DPRK-U.S. summit -- which brought the much-anticipated reconciliation to the Korean Peninsula, a place that kept the whole world on tenterhooks.
Despite some on-again-off-again twists, the year 2018 has witnessed a long-waited detente on the Korean Peninsula. As the year of 2019 rolls on, stakeholders in the peace process, including the DPRK, South Korea, China and the United States, have revealed positive signals to push forward the process.
"I am always ready to sit down again with the U.S. president at any time and will make efforts to produce an outcome that the international community would welcome," Kim Jong Un, top leader of the DPRK, said in his New Year speech, noting that he would further advance the denuclearization on the peninsula.
In response, Trump said that he expected his second meeting with Kim to take place in the "not-too-distant future."
Amid widespread discussion and speculation about the fate of the peninsula, Kim made his first overseas trip in 2019 to China on Jan. 7-10.
When holding talks with President Xi during the visit, Kim pledged to be persistent in efforts for the second summit between DPRK and U.S. leaders to achieve results "that will be welcomed by the international community," and noted that "China's important role in this process is obvious to all."
Min and other war-separated families went into raptures last month after South Korea and the DPRK held a groundbreaking ceremony to modernize and eventually connect railways and roads across the inter-Korean border.
While the two Koreas get increasingly connected with each other, Min fostered a stronger belief that his next meeting with his younger sister can be expected soon and the decades-long time it took them to be reunited has gone by like water under the bridge.