The economic downturn, the Bo Xilai scandal and the leadership switch from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping made 2012 one of China's most eventful years in recent memory.
It was a roller-coaster year when everyone wondered if the second-largest economy would have a hard or a soft landing, and what that would all mean for the global economy in a world increasingly reliant on China.
The changing of the guard among the leadership elite was a smooth process, even if it took place against a turbulent backdrop of a slowing economy and the purging of the disgraced former rising star of the Communist Party, Mr Bo.
Mr Xi's arrival has prompted widespread speculation about what it will mean for China's direction. Early indicators are that reform is on the cards, but we shall have to wait and see.
With this in mind, one of the most significant events in China took place in the dying weeks and went largely under the international radar, when Mr Xi visited the southern province of Guangdong.
Ho-fung Hung, the associate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, believes economic reform is on the cards, but this will be politically tricky.
"Xi Jinping's recent visit to Guangdong province, following in the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping's 1992 southern tour, as well as the new leader's statement of accelerating urbanisation, seems to signal he is trying to boost the economy through further economic liberalisation," he said.
"It may work, but it will also aggravate the rivalry between different camps of the party - and meet resistance from vested interests as well as the left that have been favouring state capitalism and are adverse to further marketisation of the economy," Mr Hung said.
A notable event during the year was the way in which China's economy looked inward, as it tried to cool an overheating property market and develop a domestic economy, with local demand replacing lost overseas markets as Europe and the United States continued to underwhelm. Results were mixed, again, but there is a lot of bullishness around right now for the Chinese economy in 2013.
China's economic weight within the global context is firmly established. Its GDP stands at US$7.3 trillion (Dh26.8tn), which is five times more than 10 years ago, putting it second behind the US, whereas 10 years ago it trailed America, Japan, Germany, Britain and France in sixth place.
In November, Mr Xi was appointed the general secretary of the Communist Party of China and the chairman of the party's military commission, giving him a powerful mandate to rule the world's most populous country for the next decade.
The final year in power for president Hu and the premier Wen Jiabao did not yield much in terms of much-mooted economic reform. It was the swansong for a period of spectacular growth and wealth creation but by the end of the year the economy had faltered, hitting a three-year low of 7.4 per cent growth in the third quarter.
That figure represented a seventh consecutive quarter of slowing growth. On the positive side, official data in the latter months of 2012 showed a recovery in fixed asset investment, industrial activity, retail sales and manufacturing activity.
It was also a year of unanswered questions. What really happened with Mr Bo, the one-time rising star and Mr Xi's fellow princeling, who was comprehensively purged and had his power base shattered? And where did Mr Xi go to during the fortnight he went missing in September? Speculation ranged from an assassination attempt to a bad back. The complete lack of information highlighted how despite the widescale changes and advances, China still has strong Cold War-era traits.
China's growth miracle was built on the export market and that slowed dramatically as the euro zone struggled and the US remained sluggish.
As the year came to a close, there was consensus about the need to restructure the economy to boost the domestic market, including opening up the state-owned enterprises and small and medium-sized companies to advance.
If there was one foreign company that loomed large in China, surely it was Apple.
The year began with a riot as angry shoppers threw eggs at the company's flagship store in Beijing and jostled with police after being told that the shop would not begin selling the iPhone 4S because of concerns about the size of the crowd. Apple said it would stop retail sales of the latest iPhone in China for the time being, but said the phones would be available online, through its partner carrier China Unicom or at official Apple resellers.
The riot coincided with news that the economy had expanded at its slowest pace in two and a half years as export demand flagged and government efforts to stop runaway property prices and ease inflation took their toll on growth.
Apple was still in the news in February amid negative PR over reports of poor working conditions for workers making iPhones and other Apple products.
Companies in the state sector remained shielded from meaningful competition, which meant they failed to generate as many jobs as other economies at a similar stage of development.
China's supply of cheap labour, which once looked inexhaustible, is fast disappearing, as is the country's cost advantage.
One of the darkest chapters of China's year was the way in which relations with Japan reached probably their lowest ebb since the end of the Second World War. Demonstrators took to the streets across China, smashing sushi bars and Nissan cars to show their anger over Tokyo's purchase of islands claimed by Beijing. Fearful Japanese residents stayed indoors while shops, restaurants and factories were closed.
The row over the uninhabited group of islands in the East China Sea - known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China - ratcheted up tensions in the region and had a powerful effect on trade between Asia's two biggest economies. China is Japan's largest trading partner, and Japan is China's third largest.
Amid the tumult, one familiar problem grew only worse.
The gap between rich and poor worsened, reaching its widest in the post-reform era. The richest 10 per cent of households in China own 85 per cent of its wealth, according to a recent survey, more than the 75 per cent of wealth held by the richest tenth of households in the US.