The little Argentinian magician celebrated his fourth consecutive "world player of the year" trophy - a new record. Messi enjoyed a remarkable year in 2012 even by his own astronomically high standards, with an incredible 91 goals in the calendar year. However, there was disappointment for the 25-year-old as his Barcelona team missed out on the La Liga and Champions League trophies.
Beijing's new security tsar won praise at home and abroad for his pledge to end the decades-old practice of dispatching petty criminals to camps for re-education through labour. Some 60,000 people were said to be detained under the system known as laojiao, according to a government researcher late last year.
Years of toil paid off for the Hong Kong auteur as his long-awaited new film hit the big screen for the first time with a grand premiere in Tsim Sha Tsui. The Grandmaster, about Bruce Lee's mentor Ip Man, is his first directorial feature since his US debut My Blueberry Nights in 2007. The premiere was even more of a relief for star Tony Leung Chiu-wai, who reportedly broke his arm two times during a bruising filming schedule.