SCMP.com's top 10 most popular news stories of 2012
Billionaire tycoons, super-typhoons and topless royals: 2012 had it all. And the South China Morning Post was there to cover it all. Here, SCMP.com lists the most popular stories of the year according to our readers.
In terms of global recognition, it's safe to say 2012 was Cecil Chao Sze-tsung year. The flamboyant property developer became a household name outside of his Hong Kong home turf when he offered a bounty of HK$500 million to find a husband for his daughter. Unfortunately for the billionaire, his daughter was already in a same-sex relationship.
That didn't deter potential suitors who contacted Cecil and Gigi to offer their hand in marriage.
Tragedy struck on National Day when two ferries collided in waters off Lamma Island, killing 38 people and injuring 101 others.
A Hongkong Electric ferry was packed with utility company employees and their families, and three crew members, on their way to watch a fireworks display in celebration of National Day in Victoria Harbour. It collided with a Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry (HKKF) boat headed for Lamma Island from Central around 8.15pm on October 1 in the worst maritime disaster in 40 years.
Having apparently overcome the embarrassment of her personal life becoming common knowledge around the world, Gigi Chao was able to see the lighter side of her father's attempt to marry her off to a suitable man.
The property heiress told the Post: "He [her father] has an interesting interpretation of me."
Asked if her father was cross about her alleged same-sex marriage because of his pronounced heterosexuality - having reputedly had 10,000 girlfriends - Gigi replied: "He loves the attention."
It was the story that kept on giving. Here, SCMP examined both father and daughter as they headed on a collision course.
While the British press kept a respectful distance when topless photographs emerged of Prince William's wife Catherine, the Italian press appeared to have no such reservations.
An Italian gossip magazine owned by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi published a 26-page spread of the photos, despite legal action in France against the magazine that published them first.
An ultra-leftist mainland academic caused controversy in January when he branded Hong Kong people "running dogs of the British government" when commenting on a quarrel between Hong Kong and mainland passengers on an MTR train.
On a V1 internet television talk show, Professor Kong Qingdong, from Peking University's Chinese department, called Hong Kong people 'dogs' and 'bastards' and criticised them for discriminating against mainlanders and refusing to be identified as Chinese.
When a half-naked man in his 20s died in a high-speed Ferrari crash in Beijing in March, it might have passed without comment. But the man, it later transpired, was Ling Gu, the son of Ling Jihua, chief of the General Office of the Communist Party's Central Committee and President Hu Jintao's principal aide.
Two girls were also seriously injured in the crash and different versions of who was driving and who was in the front and back seats became the subject of gossip in Beijing's corridors of power. Ling's chances of securing a seat at least on the Politburo were shattered in a reshuffle that saw him take over as head of the United Front Work Department, a largely symbolic post.
Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood, while he has been accused of torture and corruption.
In July Hong Kong was battered by Typhoon Vicente - the worst storm in 13 years.
More than 400 flights were disrupted at Chek Lap Kok Airport, with hundreds of travellers stuck on parked planes for up to six hours. Thousands of passengers were stranded in the airport as flights were delayed, cancelled or diverted. Commuters were forced to spend the night at East Rail stations after falling trees damaged overhead cables near Tai Po.
Tragedy struck this year's Macau Grand Prix with the death of Hong Kong racer Phillip Yau Wing-choi - the second in the event. Choi crashed his Chevrolet Cruze into a barrier while competing in the CTM Macau Touring Car Cup. Medical teams had to cut him free from the wreckage and he died in hospital. It was the second death in two days at the circuit, after Portuguese motorbike rider Luis Carreira succumbed to injuries sustained in an accident the day before.