Beijing’s most inspirational people of 2014 (originally appeared in TimeOut Beijing)

Over here at Time Out Beijing, we believe in leaving things on a high note. So, with the year just about to come to a close, it’s time to look back at the five most inspirational people we met in 2014.

Kim Lee

This crusader against domestic violence made headlines in 2013 when she won her spousal abuse court case against then-husband Li Yang.
Since then, Lee has become the voice of a growing movement against domestic violence in China, donating her time and alimony to protect women from abuse.

Xiao Meili

In what some are dubbing ‘the year of the feminist’, sexual assault activist Xiao Meili stood out.
Horrified by reports of sexual abuse in Chinese schools, Xiao took to the streets in 2014 to raise awareness of the issue, walking more than 2000km from Beijing to Guangzhou to petition better protection for women and children from local governments.

Chan Koonchung

Blacklisted author Chan Koonchung has been treading a fine line in China since the 2009 publication of his thinly-veiled critique of contemporary China,The Fat Years.
While this best-selling novel was banned in the Mainland, Chan has been permitted to remain and work in Beijing – although this didn’t stop him from releasing yet another boundary-pushing novel in 2014, this time on the taboo subject of Tibet.

Evan Osnos

The second author on our list, as well as one of our picks for China’s best books in 2014, won the National Book Award for his nonfiction account of the changing minds of China.
Drawing from his experiences over an eight-year stint reporting from Beijing, journalist Osnos seeks to inform and enlighten international audiences on an often-misunderstood country.

Ai Weiwei

Possibly the world’s most famous Beijinger, Ai Weiwei has long made headlines for his fearlessly dissident artwork.
After a protracted case in 2011 over charges of alleged tax evasion, Ai continues to live and work in Beijing, remaining hopeful for the future of his hometown.
Feel like celebrating a truly inspirational year? Check out our New Year’s Eve in Beijing section for the best things on offer this December 31.

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