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I'm Philippa Thomas here at the BBC's headquarters
In this special edition of the programme, we're
looking back at some of the best reports from this year from our
network of correspondents around the world.
Stand-off in the skies above the South China Seas.
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes flies over one of the most
contested areas in the world, incurring the wrath
Ian Panell reports from Barack Obama's former hometown and finds
Fergus Walsh investigates how scientists
are using animals to grow human organs.
The BBC went to extraordinary lengths this
year to get a rare glimpse of China's determined
expansion in the South China Sea, one of the most contested areas
Beijing is building huge artificial islands on
the Spratly Island chain, which the Americans and others
But Rupert Wingfield-Hayes flew in a small, civilian aircraft into
China's self-declared security zone 200 kilometres off
It's just before dawn on the Philippine island of Palawan.
Even at this hour, it's hot, but there's
no sign here of the trouble brewing a few hundred miles out to sea.
I'm about to take off on a trip the Chinese government
Just 140 nautical miles from the Philippine
Until a year ago, there was nothing here, just a submerged atoll.
Millions of tonnes of material have been dredged up to build this huge
As we close to 12 nautical miles, this.
Down below, we can see a pair of Chinese Navy ships.
We are a civilian aircraft flying over international
waters and yet we are being repeatedly threatened.
What we get is the Chinese sending out that message.
Foreign military aircraft, unidentified aircraft, leave this
Our captain responded saying we are a civilian aircraft,
It didn't make any difference whatsoever.
They just repeated that threat, we must
As we fly on, the full extent of the construction is revealed.
A cement plant is visible on the new land.
And then, for the first time, a clear view of the new
A Chinese fighter taking off from here
could reach the Philippine coast in nine minutes.
In the last year, China has built at least seven new
islands and three new runways in the South China Sea.
One here at Mischief Reef, another at Subi Reef,
and the biggest of all at Fiery Cross.
The aim is to reinforce China's claim to the whole of the
More than 40% of the world's trade passes through the waters below us.
China is determined to assert its control.
America and its allies say they won't let that happen.
As we have found out, it may already be too late.
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC News, in the South China Sea.
Now to evidence of a startling rise in
levels of gun violence in parts of the United States, including
President Obama's political home, Chicago.
Killings in the city have reached a 20-year high.
A deadly summer of violence brought this year's death toll to 500.
Most of the victims and their killers are young black men.
Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway spent a week in
Chicago and found a world where gangs and guns rule.
Here, in my neighbourhood, they start young, man.
When you read the news headlines, that's the age frame they are dying
We've got to teach the kids how to defend themselves.
It is senseless violence at the end of the day but it is like,
what do you do when you're caught in that moment?
You'd rather be caught with protection than without protection.
But, I've never seen so many guns like now.
Bodiel is a rapper from the west side, now the most violent part of
He is a member of the Vice Lords Gang.
He's been in prison and even he's shocked by what's happening.
It's like somebody dropped off crates of guns in everybody's hood.
I think a lot of guys need to die in order to
I think some of these BEEP need to get killed and get
knocked off and get them out of the way to make it a better place.
More people have been killed here since
2001 than US deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
To be honest, I've got a son that's seven and
I haven't taught neither one of them how to ride
The environment they live in is not safe.
I miss you. I miss you too.
I love you. I love you, Dadda.
It's hard when you don't really have help, you know what I'm saying?
It's like, we're put in a weird position,
With so many guns and so little control,
This may sound like the stuff of science fiction movies
but American researchers broke new ground this year by trying
The research uses a pioneering technique known as gene editing,
which enables DNA to be altered simply and quickly.
Some believe it could provide the answer to the
As Fergus Walsh explains, it also raises many ethical issues.
You are watching two species being mixed.
Human stem cells are being injected into a
You can see them travelling down the tube.
This biologist in California is trying to grow a human pancreas
Our hope is that this pig embryo will develop normally but
the pancreas will be made almost exclusively out of human cells.
So then that pancreas could be compatible with a patient
The technique is known as gene editing.
It uses molecular scissors to delete the DNA instructions
in the pig embryo to create a pancreas.
The ambition is the human cells will fill the void
The same technique might enable other organs to be grown
The BBC's Panorama was allowed to film the sows which
were pregnant with human pig embryos, known as chimeras.
If human stem cells were taken from a patient,
the transplant organs could be tissue matched,
This research raises profound ethical concerns,
crucially just how human are the piglets developing inside
It's such a sensitive area that the chimeric embryos will
not be permitted to go to term but be removed for tissue analysis
after 28 days gestation, when they're about
Crucially, they'll check whether the pig's
developing brain gains human-like qualities.
Another pioneer in this field told me this question has yet
With every organ we try to make, be it kidney, liver or lung,
we will look at what's happening in the brain.
If we find that it's too humanlike, we won't
7,000 people in the UK are on the transplant waiting list.
Hundreds die each year before a donor can be found.
Patient trials, involving gene-edited pig organs, are
And that's all from this special edition of Reporters, looking back
at some of the best reports from this year.
The best of today's Sunshine was in Scotland, Northern
A weekly programme of stories filed by BBC reporters from all over the world, ranging from analyses of major global issues to personal reflections and anecdotes.