Seems like people in the public relations industry in Beijing need other outlets to express themselves. Will Moss and David Wolf were both popular bloggers until their departures in 2013. Kaiser Kuo formerly wrote the regular “Ich Bin Ein Beijinger” column for this magazine before co-founding the Sinica podcast with Jeremy Goldkorn. And in 2012, Scott Kronick, president and CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations, Asia Pacific, took readers of the Beijinger’s blog to “The Lighter Side.”

The Lighter Side of China, a compilation of those columns, pokes fun at just about everyone involved in the China experience. Kronick would know: he is approaching his 20th year in China, and that’s after four years in Taipei, his wife is Chinese, and he is raising his children in a multicultural, multilingual home.

Everyone and everything gets the treatment at some point. Chapters, each only a few pages long, cover a range of topics: the Olympics, feng shui, food, Chinese medicine, raising children, travel, and marriage. Each gets highlighted for the unique set of challenges it poses, then roasted a bit for maximum comic value like a philosophical chuan’r.

Kronick chronicles an early encounter with the English names of Chinese colleagues: “I sought to understand everything about the Chinese and became fixated on the English names the Chinese gave themselves. I wondered why a colleague in our advertising office would call himself ‘Billboard’ Kwok. Or why my slightly heavyweight boss called himself ‘Beef’ Chen. Or why the advertising creative team donned such names as ‘Jesus’ Yeh and ‘Devil’ Zhou and, in case you had a question, you could ask for the Creative Director ‘If’ Chen. For those who wonder where these names come from, there are a variety of influences.”

Here, he gets behind the wheel in Beijing: “More than 15 years ago, all it took to qualify for a license was driving 100 meters in a straight line. Interestingly, this all changed around the time that I decided to get my license. The year was 2003 and I think Beijing city officials felt the 100-meter drive was just not enough. I envision these folks sitting around in a smoke-filled office sitting on felt-covered seats, with mugs filled with green tea leaves and brainstorming how they could mess with people like me. The topic: ‘How to make sure drivers have the real skills to navigate the potential Armageddon that takes place on the roads everyday.’”

Cleverly illustrated, at about 110 pages in a format that lends itself more to take-out menu than novel, The Lighter Side of China is sufficiently light in both weight and content that it fits into any coat pocket. It’s too bad the book was released so early in the year – it will make a great stocking stuffer. Regardless, it should do brisk business among China veterans, business people, and visitors who were able to see the humor in the city and country in which we live.

Pick up a copy of The Lighter Side of China at The Bookworm or

Click for more of our new May issue of the Beijinger

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