Dense smog enveloped Beijing last week, prompting the city to issue its first red alert for pollution. It ordered schools closed, suspended many factories and imposed restrictions to keep half the city's vehicles off the roads.
Residents ventured out wearing face masks, some with patterns, logos, messages or cutesy animals in an attempt to bring some color to the gray haze. On the third day heavy smog, a cold front blew in and cleared it away over a period of four hours captured in a composite photo.
Pollution has also grown serious in New Delhi, where a high court warned that "it seems like we are living in a gas chamber."
On a brighter note, Xing Xing, one of the two giant pandas on loan to Malaysia from China, sniffed for food at the National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur.
In sports action, Sanfrecce Hiroshima's Yusuke Minagawa got a ball in the face during a FIFA Club World Cup soccer match in Yokohama against Auckland City FC.
Actors from the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" visited Japan for the premiere of the next installation of the blockbuster series that opens in theaters this month. Meanwhile, Santa Claus was spotted in scuba gear swimming with sardines at the Coex Aquarium in Seoul, South Korea.
In glimpses of hardships facing the poor, laborers worked at a brick-making factory in Mandalay, Myanmar, where they earn about $3 a day. And a fire broke out in slums in the Kadivali area of Mumbai, India, reportedly destroying hundreds of homes.
Myanmar embraced another fixture of capitalism as officials cut ribbons to open the Yangon Stock Exchange.
This gallery was curated by Associated Press photo editor Karly Domb Sadof in Bangkok and Masayo Yoshida in Tokyo.