JANUARY The year started much as it would end, with bad news for US President Donald Trump . This time, it was reporter John Power letting the big man down gently, with a report questioning whether America had lost the battle for the South China Sea before it had even begun. Experts told Power that with its military build-up, maritime militia and island-building activities, China was already capable of controlling the sea “in all scenarios short of war with the United States ”. Has the US already lost the battle for the South China Sea? Together with projections from the US Naval War College that the fleet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army could be twice the size of its American counterpart as soon as 2030 and it was no surprise that designer Huy Truong wondered if the US commander in chief might be getting “That Sinking Feeling”. Which stories mattered most to you in 2020? Find out with our Year In Review 2020 retrospective. FEBRUARY The Diamond Princess cruise ship always promised to be more than just an adventure, and boy did it deliver. The hapless ship went from a symbol of ultimate luxury to one of disaster when Covid-19 struck down hundreds of passengers, forcing the ship to be quarantined for nearly a month off Yokohama, Japan . Of the more than 3,700 passengers and crew on board, more than 700 caught the virus and 14 died. Our story , by John Power and Meaghan Tobin, not only raised questions about whether its quarantine was “a cruel human experiment”, but also about the future of a multibillion-dollar industry. All in all, it was enough to make designer Dennis Yip feel a little “Sea Sick”. Could the coronavirus crisis sink the cruise industry? MARCH In a year with more than its fair share of bad news, it was worth championing the heart-warming tales when they happened, too. Raquel Carvalho spoke to five Asian women who were pushing back against society’s gender biases. Their perspectives on life, from motherhood in Hong Kong to menstruation huts in Nepal , protesting in India and life as a lesbian domestic worker, struck our designer Huy Truong as nothing short of heroic. Unsung heroes: 5 Asian women transcending gender roles APRIL By April, it was clear that the coronavirus and the destruction it was causing was as much an economic tragedy as it was a health one. Our story, Class of 2020: a lost generation? found that young people across Southeast Asia faced a hit to job prospects that was likely to endure long after the pandemic itself had passed. That in turn raised the spectre of something that should frighten both young and old alike: political instability. Class of 2020: a lost generation in the post-coronavirus economy? MAY They say hindsight has 20:20 vision and looking back, perhaps the This Week in Asia team were a little optimistic with this one – but hey, it raised a smile. Our report urged readers feeling flat from the Covid-19-induced moratorium on tourism to cheer up and toast the imminent arrival of travel bubbles. These bubbles, along with the newly liberated and big-spending Chinese tourists who would be using them, were about to inject hope into the travel industry any minute, we confidently predicted . Unfortunately, our bubble burst when it became clear the damage to the tourism industry had only just begun. Still, we weren’t the only ones to jump the gun. Half a year after our article, Singapore and Hong Kong announced a groundbreaking plan for quarantine-free travel between the two cities – only to have their best-laid plans hijacked at the last minute by Hong Kong’s fourth wave. Feeling deflated? We certainly were. Chinese tourists, travel bubbles: how Asia can refloat its battered travel industry JUNE Our designer Dennis Yip came out swinging with this one, taking his cue from Malaysia’s former two-time prime minister Mahathir Mohamad , who gave us an exclusive interview in which he said he had bigger fish to fry than his successor Muhyiddin Yassin . He told Bhavan Jaipragas and Tashny Sukumaran his real adversary remained Najib Razak , the rival he trounced in the 2018 polls. Despite Najib at the time battling to avoid a jail term in his trial for corruption linked to the 1MDB state investment fund, Mahathir suspected his wily old rival could re-emerge as a political force. Aged 94 at the time of the interview, Mahathir was himself no spring chicken, but he made it clear there was still plenty of time yet for a political comeback of his own. Muhyiddin who? Najib’s still the real problem in Malaysia: Mahathir JULY Hong Kong’s summer came to be dominated by one big issue: Beijing’s introduction at the end of June of the controversial national security law . Backers of the law said it was necessary to prevent and punish secession, subversion, terrorism and other unsavoury-sounding offences, but critics said it could be used to erode freedoms and clamp down on dissent. After it was implemented, many Hongkongers said they were considering leaving the city and were subsequently encouraged by offers of refuge from places such as Britain. This article by Laura Westbrook and John Power gave anyone thinking of doing so pause for thought. This wasn’t the first time the city had faced an exodus. Laura and John spoke to Hongkongers who left before the 1997 handover from Britain, and most had the same cautionary message: starting a new life overseas was anything but easy. Home and away: after security law, Hongkongers contemplate second exodus AUGUST A supposedly leaderless group of protesters, dressed in black and wearing masks, taunts authority with clever word plays, flash mobs and memes. Thailand’s protesters might have borrowed their three-fingered salute from the Hunger Games , but their playbook was straight outta Hong Kong . Like their peers in the Chinese city, Thailand’s protest movement was articulate, young and inventive – and far outsized by an authoritarian opponent. Huy Truong’s clever cover managed to capture the many parallels, along with a headline that seemed at once familiar and new. How Hong Kong and the Hunger Games inspired the revolution of our Thais SEPTEMBER The news that Japan ’s longest-serving prime minister Shinzo Abe was to resign for health reasons shocked the political world. This was the man who, over four terms of office stretching back to 2006, had done more than any other since World War II to raise his country’s international presence. He ushered in revolutionary economic policies that still bear his name, broached the taboo of the country’s pacifist constitution and built a formidable personal brand that gained the respect of capitals across the world. Some 120 million Japanese wanted the answer to the question Maria Siow posed : who could possibly fill his shoes? New Rising Sun: can post-Abe Japan leave China’s shadow to lead Asia? OCTOBER As the national security law continued to furrow people’s brows, it began to sink in that for the first time in Hong Kong’s history, a city once famed for sheltering dissidents from the Chinese mainland suddenly had exiles of its own. This story , by Jeffie Lam and Chris Lau, asked who they were, what did they want and – crucially – what would they do if and when the world stopped listening? Were their calls already becoming more distant, isolated and divided, as Huy Truong’s cover suggested? As one former student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen movement put it: “It’s very difficult to repeat the same message year after year.” Hong Kong’s exiled dissidents: the world’s listening now – but for how long? NOVEMBER With the year drawing to a close, This Week in Asia ’s 2020 returned to where it had begun, with more bad news for Trump. Even while half the world was still wondering whether The Donald had won or lost his epochal battle with Joe Biden in the nail-biting US presidential election , our man with a crystal ball Bhavan Jaipragas was busy divining what effect the vote would have on the region. His findings made for a disconcerting read: a prediction that the toxic effects of Trump’s peculiar brand of politics would linger long after the source was removed. Trump may have lost, but Trumpism has only just begun DECEMBER Of course, Trump was far from the only politician down on his luck in 2020. Indeed, this was an annus horribilis for Malaysian politics, wrote Tashny Sukumaran and Bhavan Jaipragas. And few people had worse years than perennial nearly man Anwar Ibrahim . Described for years as Malaysia’s prime-minister-in-waiting, Anwar had seemed finally to be closing in on the top job, two years after being pardoned for his sodomy conviction – a charge most observers believe to have been politically motivated. But, as usual, he was only nearly there. The nearly man: will Anwar Ibrahim ever lead Malaysia? The pact he thought he had made with his former foe Mahathir Mohamad came to nought and was then made irrelevant anyway, when Muhyiddin Yassin shocked the country with a political coup. As if that wasn’t enough, Anwar’s own allies began to question whether he had the numbers to form a new administration when he gave the green light to Muhyiddin’s draft 2021 budget – flying in the face of an earlier insistence the opposition would not cooperate with a “back-door government”. He then announced he had a “strong, formidable, convincing” majority in Parliament that would allow him to topple Muhyiddin, only for that plan to fizzle out. The monarch, Sultan Abdullah, then put the boot in by saying he was “unconvinced” about Anwar’s chances. Perhaps like the rest of us, Anwar should find solace in the thought that 2020 is nearly over. Nearly Anwar, nearly . Which stories mattered most to you in 2020? Find out with our Year In Review 2020 retrospective.