Chiang Ching-kuo diaries to be made public next year

The diaries of former president Chiang Ching-kuo will be made available in the Hoover Archives Reading Room, which is currently under construction and is set to reopen early next year. (Courtesy of Academia Historica)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Copies of the personal diaries of former Republic of China President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) will be made public in February 2020 at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, after a long-running dispute prevented them from public viewing.

The joint announcement was made Friday by the institution, Academia Historica in Taiwan, Chiang Ching-kuo’s granddaughter Chiang Yo-mei (蔣友梅) and the family of Chiang Hsiao-yen (蔣孝嚴), the former president’s third son.

They will be made available in the Hoover Archives Reading Room, which is currently under construction and is set to reopen early next year, the institution said.

Some of the diaries, however, will be made public on Dec. 17, when a conference celebrating the opening of the diaries to the public will be held, according to Lin Hsiao-ting (林孝庭), curator of the institution’s Modern China Collection.

The collection of Chiang’s diaries span from 1937, when he returned to China following years of schooling and work in the Soviet Union, to 1979, a year after he became president and the year when the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taipei.

Chiang, who was president of the R.O.C. on Taiwan from 1978 until his death in early 1988, was the son of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), who led China from 1928 until 1949 and then ruled Taiwan with an iron fist after his Kuomintang lost China’s Civil War to the communists in 1949 until his death in 1975.

By virtue of his position, Chiang Ching-kuo was involved in the affairs of state even before 1949, taking part in negotiations between China and Soviet Russia following the end of World War II.

He then served as a member of the secret police following the Kuomintang government’s retreat to Taiwan, before becoming premier, and later, president.

The only year not covered by the collection of diaries is 1948, because the diaries from that year have been lost, Lin said.

As the diaries offer a rare glimpse into the inner world of Chiang and shine a light on an important period in modern Chinese history, they are considered an invaluable resource to scholars and the public alike, Lin said.

They will also complement the collection of diaries covering the years 1915 to 1972 left behind by his father, which were made public by the institution in 2006, and have since been the most requested collection in its possession, Lin said.

The Hoover Institution has held the diaries of the two late presidents since 2005, when Chiang Ching-kuo’s daughter-in-law Chiang Fang Chih-yi (蔣方智怡) signed a 50-year deal for the diaries to be curated by the institution.

Disputes over the ownership of the diaries have been ongoing since then, and derailed a plan to make Chiang Ching-kuo’s diaries public in 2010.

Though court proceedings that will determine ownership are still underway, all parties involved in the matter agreed to make the diaries public this past summer to facilitate academic research.

By Huang Shu-fang and Chiang Yi-ching