While reporting the reaction in China to the publication of WikiLeaks' cache of unredacted State Department cables, several people I spoke with remembered meeting with U.S. Embassy officials, but said they had no idea their conversations were being relayed to Washington in formal documents. They were even more shocked, of course, to learn that those files are now publicly available to anyone with an Internet connection.
Answering the phone at her office in a state news agency, one journalist's reply was typical: “It was an off-the-record session."
She said those words like this -- OFF.THE.RECORD.
And no, she was not interested in seeing a copy of the cable that carried her name with a (Protect) designation behind it.
I wondered: The next time an embassy staffer invites people to an informal dinner here, will some hesitate to attend?
(My story on the cables and China can be found by clicking here.)