Thousands march against C.Y. Leung
More than 50,000 protesters are expected to march on the government headquarters to demand Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's resignation over a perceived loss of credibility. The pro-democracy rally is just the tip of the iceberg, with possible moves to impeach him over illegal works at his home on The Peak. Days before the march, street clashes broke out between his supporters and dissenters, some of whom have taken to brandishing colonial flags.
Global bodies' leadership shuffle
New member countries assume the leadership of several major international groups. Ireland takes over the rotating European Union presidency, while the United Kingdom heads the Group of Eight (G8) for the year and Russia rises to the G20's helm. Pakistan chairs the United Nations Security Council, while five new non-permanent members - Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda - take up their seats in the council.
Key appearance by Sudan leader
Sudan's president, Lieutenant General Omar al-Bashir, heads to the conflict-torn Blue Nile state for the launch of a dam, one of the country's biggest economic projects. He also makes a speech to the nation - his first major appearance since having throat surgery. The Blue Nile has been the site of deadly clashes between government troops and rebels aligned with South Sudan.
Banks get dose of Basel III
Banks in more than 20 countries, including China, begin implementing tighter capital requirements under the Basel III accord. The rule protects the financial system by having banks take on less risk. From 2013 to 2018, lenders are required to hold a reserve of 7 per cent of top-quality capital, which includes a 2.5 per cent buffer that can be used to withstand periods of financial stress.
Electricity tariff rises take effect
After the fireworks and lights of New Year's Day, Hongkongers wake up to heavier electricity bills this year as CLP Power's and Hongkong Electric's price rises come into effect. CLP will charge about 5.9 per cent more, while Hongkong Electric will charge 2.9 per cent more. Although the firms lowered their initial price-rise demand after a public outcry, CLP has warned there are more increases in store.
Changes to criminal law, pollution data
Seventy-four big cities on the mainland begin issuing hourly pollution monitoring data, in response to public complaints about choking pollution and grey skies. The data will cover sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and PM2.5 levels. At the same time, the newly amended Criminal Procedure Law takes effect, heightening protection of a suspect's rights and further streamlining the way civil disputes are handled. However, the amended law is criticised for effectively legalising secret detentions.