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2012 Year in Review: Top China Stories 2012

A look back at China’s top stories in 2012


It was another busy year in China and Taiwan, especially for elections as China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan all elected leaders this year. The following are the top stories that made headlines on both sides of the Strait in 2012.

10. China Selects New Leaders

Xi Jinping
Getty Images

After days of closed door meetings at the 18th Party Congress, Xi Jinping was appointed as head of the Communist Party, taking over for Hu Jintao. Members of the Standing Committee of the Poliburo were also revealed at the once-a-decade handover of power at the conclusion of the Party Congress in Beijing. They are Li Keqiang (China's deputy vice president), Zhang Dejiang (former vice premier of the State Council but replaced disgraced leader Bo Xilai in Chongqing), Yu Zhengsheng (CPC party chief in Shanghai), Liu Yunshan (China's propaganda chief), Wang Qishan (ice premier in charge of economic, energy and financial affairs) and Zhang Gaoli (party secretary of Tianjin). Also noteworthy is that the Standing Committee of the Politburo has been reduced from nine members to seven.

9. Saga of Bo Xilai

Bo Xilai
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images
Facts more engrossing than fiction, rumors, conspiracy theories, and gossip swirling around the Internet as China’s biggest political drama in over two decades unfolded before the public’s eye. The story of the downfall of Bo Xilai, the former mayor and Communist Party chief of Chongqing, a large city in southwest China, and a member of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, and the subsequent aftermath that resemble one-part spy thriller, one-part Hollywood blockbuster.

8. Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin
Rob Carr / Getty Images
Basketball player Jeremy Lin skyrocketed to fame, a trajectory dubbed ‘Linsanity’ after his short but noteworthy time with the New York Knicks. In each game he has played in 2012, he consistently played well while creating career highs at most games. Linsanity reached fever pitch February 10, 2012 when Lin scored 38 points and had seven assists, leading his team to a 92-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Lin scored 89 points in the first three games in which he was a starter, the most by any player since the merger between the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the NBA.Jeremy Lin is an Asian-American basketball superstar who is the first player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the N.B.A.

7. Diaoyu Island Conflict

The conflict over the Diaoyu Islands often comes up in news with tensions rising each time a Chinese or Taiwanese boat veers too close to the island chain or public posturing over who owns the islands reignites the fight for the uninhabited islands. The Japanese government’s decision to pay ¥2.05 billion (US$26 million) for three of the chain’s eight islands in mid-September in a move to nationalize the archipelago has only angered China and Taiwan, which both claim the islands and condemned Japan’s recent action. After Japan and China lashed out at each other over ongoing tensions over the Diaoyu Islands during the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York City, a group of prominent Japanese are suppoerting an initiative by Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou who has called for an end to the fighting,

6. Ai Weiwei Loses Tax Evasion Case

Ai Weiwei
Miguel Villagran / Getty Images
Artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未), whose legal woes with the Chinese government began in 2011, lost his lawsuit against the Beijing tax bureau in a local court hearing in his continual battle against the Chinese government over allegations of tax evasion

5. China’s First Female Astronaut Returns from Space

After a 13-day mission, China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang (瀏陽) and her two crew members of Shenzhou 9, Jing Haipeng (景海鵬) and Liu Wang (劉旺) landed safely in China, according to the Taipei Times. The crew was the first manned mission to the Tiangong I, an orbiting module that is a prototype for a future space station.The mission was part of China's preparations for manning a permanent space station. Tiangong 1 is scheduled to be retired in a few years and replaced with a permanent space station.

4. Chen Guangcheng’s Escape

Days before Hillary Clinton arrived in Beijing to discuss strategic and economic issues in the spring, human rights activist Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. Embassy. Chen, who is blind and had been under house arrest for 18 months, made a daring escape in the middle of the night.

3. Chinese Golf Prodigy Breaks Record

Guan Tian-Lang became the youngest player to compete on the European Tour in April when he teed off at the China Volvo Open in Tianjin. Guan, who was 13-years and 173-days-old on that day, struggled at the tourament, eventually finishing the first day five over par and 150th in a field of 156 players.

2. Hong Kong Elects New Leader

Hong Kong's Election Committee elected Hong Kong's next leader, CY Leung, in March. The 1,200-member committee consisting mostly of business leaders and Hong Kong's elite elected Leung, who is seen as an acceptable choice by Beijing. Not everyone was happy with the election results. A group of protestors gathered outside the convention center where votes were cast to call for Hong Kongers to have a say over who leads the city-state of 7 million. Leung beat Henry Tang (唐英年), who was once the favorite to win until scandals including infidelity and construction of an illegal underground basement in his home came to light during the election campaign. Pro-democracy candidate Albert Ho (何俊仁) came in third. Leung tok over for Donald Tsang on July 1.

1. Ma Ying-Jeou Wins Taiwan Presidential Election

Taiwan Election 2012
Randy Liao
Taiwan voted for four more years of incumbent Ma Ying-jeou after a closely watched battle with the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's Tsai Ing-wen, who sought to become Taiwan's and East Asia's first female president. With 51.6-percent of the votes, Ma was declared the winner in January and gave his acceptance speech before a crowd of cheering supporters. Tsai received 45.6-percent of the votes while James Soong of the People First Party garnered 2.8-percent of the votes, according to the Central Election Committee. The mood at the DPP rally in Banciao was somber as supporters watched the election results live on a large screen. In her concession speech, Tsai said she accepted responsibility for the DPP's loss and stepping down as head of the pro-independence party.
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