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"China" is the tenth episode of the seventh season of The Office and the 136th episode overall. The episode was directed by Charles McDougall and was written by Halsted Sullivan & Warren Lieberstein. It first aired on December 2, 2010. It was viewed by 7.31 million people.

Cold open

Jim watches Dwight pick up a pencil with his foot in disgust, asking a singular "Why?" Dwight explains that by using his feet instead of his hands for twenty minutes a day, he will eventually have the pedidexterity of a chimpanzee. While trying to use his feet to sharpen his pencil, he knocks his belongings onto Pam's desk. He apologizes to Pam and offers to write an apology letter, typing it on his computer with his toes one word at a time. Jim brings Dwight a cup of coffee, and mockingly sips his own and proclaims "Thank you, hands. Nothing else in the universe can do what you do." Dwight then attempts to rise to the challenge and lift his cup with his feet, even after Jim tells him he could just admit he was wrong. He inevitably spills the hot coffee on himself, and Jim offers him a high five, consoling him by saying "A for effort right?" Dwight still refuses to give up on his task, and high fives Jim back with his foot.

Synopsis

After reading a magazine article about the rise of China's economy, Michael gets frightened that the United States will fall victim to an evil ploy by the Chinese government due to its immense size. In an announcement, Michael asks the staff for ideas on how to boost the American economy and states a figure about how many cities China has that have over a million people. Oscar tries to correct him, but Ryan checks online and proves Michael correct.

The entire staff jokes with Oscar for the rest of the day about him now being less intelligent than Michael, so Oscar invites Michael to coffee in the new café in the lobby to one-up him in another conversation about China. Jim, Andy and Ryan try to coach him, but Michael fumbles the conversation and Oscar nearly walks away victorious and smug from the debate. Michael, at the last minute, rebuts with an argument about friendship and conversation which has no relevance to the conversation but is delivered so passionately that the audience of Erin, Kelly, Ryan, Jim, Stanley and Andy all applaud and congratulate him.

As the new building owner, Dwight has made financial cutbacks, including installing motion-activated light sensors and half-ply toilet paper. Pam starts to argue against these changes, and as the new office administrator decides to find a new building to move into. Pam finds a new space for the office in a plush building. Dwight begins to get worried, but finds out she made up the office as leverage. He starts to put pressure on her, and she confides in Jim that she doesn't want to be a failure as office administrator.

Dwight overhears and sets up a ploy for Pam to find out about tenant rights, which she uses against Dwight. He makes the changes and insists in a talking head that it is not because of compassion, although a candid smile at Pam's happiness suggests otherwise.

Darryl confronts Andy about sending him too many text messages, but Andy continues to text him unnecessarily. Darryl eventually draws the line and gives Andy one more do-or-be-blocked message. Andy texts him about pigeons in the parking lot, and Darryl reluctantly goes but ends up laughing at the sight of the birds eating ice cream. He tells Andy that future text messages need to be at that level of amusement.

Cultural references

  • Michael is initially worked up about China after reading an article in Newsweek, an American weekly news magazine.
  • Michael notes that he was forced to read Newsweek in the waiting room at his dentist's office because some "kid had the magazine I wanted to read", hinting that the magazine Michael wanted to read was the children's magazine Highlights for Children.
  • When coming up with an excuse for Dwight being unavailable, Nate claims Dwight is being questioned by the police in connection with a string of dognappings. Dognapping is the kidnapping or stealing of a dog owned by someone else, with the intention of demanding a ransom or selling it.
  • When he learns that the tallest person in the world is Chinese, Michael says, "So much for keeping our secrets up high." Michael is referring to the highest security clearance known as "Top secret", but believing that the term "top" refers to the fact that the secrets are kept on a high shelf.
  • Jim played a game called Zombie Soccer for two hours.
  • Andy sends Darryl a text that only reads "Megan Fox?", a reference to the American actress and model.
  • Michael does an impression of the then-governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Creed notes that he understands, but cannot speak Pirate slang.
  • Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas.
  • Mao (full name: Mao Zedong) was a Chinese communist revolutionary, dictator, political theorist and politician.
  • Andy attempts to motivate Michael with a pep talk taken from the 1979 movie Rocky II: "This guy doesn’t just wanna win. Y’know, he wants to bury you. He wants to humiliate you!"
  • The Pentagon is a pentagonal-shaped building which serves as the headquarters of, and frequently used as a nickname for, the United States Department of Defense. Michael believes that every country has a Pentagon.
  • Michael refers to Oscar and himself as two men, "one white and one latina." The term "latina" refers to a woman of Latin American heritage. Michael should have used the masculine term "latino".

Connections to previous episodes

  • During Michael and Oscar's discussion in the lobby of the office building, a copy of Call of Duty can be seen behind the counter ("The Coup" and "Email Surveillance").
  • In the lobby of the office building, Jim has a large rubber band ball. He continues to be unmotivated to work after hitting his commission cap in the previous episode.
  • Jim had previously wanted to step down as manager to become a salesman due to Sabre having no commission cap on sales in "Manager and Salesman".
  • Michael returns from dentist appointments many times during the series, due to his soft teeth.
  • In his closing speech with Oscar in the cafe, Michael labels Oscar a “Latina”. This is probably in reference to his difficulty with the feminine or masculine changes with Spanish as shown in "Body Language".
  • Pam previously dropped out of art school in "Business Trip" and stopped being a salesman in "Counseling".
  • Pam claims to Dwight that she considers them to be close friends, which he seems to acknowledge, in "Viewing Party".
  • Darryl and Andy previously became good friends in "The Sting".

Amusing details

  • When Dwight and Nate are locating the building, Nate reads out "10706", but the sign reads "10735".
  • Andy tries to order a blueberry in French from Dwight's caffeine corner. He previously claimed to be proficient in French in "Business Trip".
  • When Kevin is coming up with the antacid pill ideas, Stanley sarcastically asks, "Why not just go one for the year?" and Kevin says, "It's too big a pill to swallow." It appears Kevin was just making the pills bigger instead of using a stronger antacid.
  • Michael says, "Yes, Pam this is exactly why I hired you as Office Administrator, handle it." Michael did not hire her as Office Administrator, nor did he pay attention to what Pam was saying when he signed off on it.
  • Michael says that hitting Ctrl-P on a computer keyboard will open a new tab as long as the printer isn't hooked up. This is false. The correct key combo is Ctrl-T.
  • Jim spends the day making a rubber band ball and playing a zombie soccer game on his computer, he had learnt in the previous episode that he has met his commission cap for the fiscal year, thus having no motivation to sell.
  • Ryan is very invested in making sure Michael beats Oscar in their battle of wits, such as running to Stanley's computer to verify Michael's fact and making him cheat sheets for his debate with Oscar. He is also seen excitedly mouthing "you got this" to Michael when he makes good points in the debates and grabs his hair in frustration when Michael drops the cheat sheets.
  • While everyone is confused when Erin mentions her hypothetical scenario of hiring someone and killing them after taking out a life insurance policy, Angela appears to be unsurprised. It is possible that being the head of accounting, she is aware that the office recently took out a life insurance policy for Erin and knows what she is referring to.
  • Nate waves in excitement to the Scranton branch who are standing in the parking lot, after he drops the banner for roach extermination.
  • Angela is too short to activate the trigger for the motion-activated light sensors.
  • After the roach extermination banner is put up, all windows facing the parking lot are consistently covered by the banner.

Trivia

  • Dwight predicted that China would become the world's largest economy by 2020. This turned out to be true, after adjusting for purchasing power and cost of living.[1]
  • First appearance of Dwight's Caffeine Corner in the building lobby.
  • Jim makes a rubber band ball that grows in size as the episode progresses.
  • Toby does not appear in this episode.
  • The sign in the lobby has added "The Schrute Building, Under New Management" below Vance Refrigeration.

Cast

Main cast

Supporting cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast

  • Sarah Zimmerman as "Other Pam"

References

  1. Buchholz, Katharina, The Biggest Economies in the World, Statista, July 10, 2020.
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