President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he hoped the Chiang family could agree on the handling of the diaries of former presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).
A dispute erupted over the diaries after Chiang You-mei (蔣友梅), the daughter of Chiang Ching-kuo’s eldest son, Chiang Hsiao-wen (蔣孝文), issued a statement through the international law firm Baker and McKenzie on Tuesday asking her aunt, Chiang Fang Chih-yi (蔣方智怡), to help persuade the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California to negotiate a new contract with all nine heirs.
The diaries are currently on display at the institute.
Chiang You-mei said Chiang Fang Chih-yi, as the widow of Chiang Ching-kuo’s third son, Chiang Hsiao-yung (蔣孝勇), should not have signed a contract with the Hoover on her own, because she was one of nine heirs to the diaries and the deal infringed on the legal rights of the other heirs.
Although legally the diaries belonged to the Chiang family, Ma said they should be regarded as state property from a historical and cultural perspective. The diaries should made accessible to everyone, Ma said on the sidelines of a forum in Taipei discussing Chiang Kai-shek’s diaries and the history of the Republic of China.
Shao Ming-huang (邵銘煌), head of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Party History Institute, said 55 volumes of Chiang Kai-shek’s diaries touched on a wide range of matters such as national and party affairs, the international situation, personnel disputes within the KMT government, the Chinese Civil War, cross-strait confrontations, family affairs and Chiang Kai-shek’s romances.
According to his entries, the Chinese Nationalist Army’s loss to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Chinese Civil War was the biggest setback and humiliation for him.
After shifting his government to Taiwan in 1949, Chiang Kai-shek spent a lot of his time “soul-searching,” trying to understand why his KMT forces yielded to the CCP army only four years after winning a difficult war against the Japanese in World War II, his diary entries show.
“The root causes, among other things, were putting the wrong people in the wrong positions,” Chiang Kai-shekwrote, citing the naming of Soong Tse-ven (宋子文) as premier and General Pai Chung-hsi (白崇禧) as his top military aide.
Soong failed to adequately address the economy and Pai failed to stop the communists from advancing, Chiang Kai-shekwrote.
Shao said Chiang Kai-shek wrote in his diary every day for more than 50 years between 1917 and 1972, adding that he used the diary as a means of “examining himself” and correcting his mistakes.
Chiang Kai-shek, who died in 1975, never tried to hide his personal feelings toward anyone, Shao said. He once called former US secretary of state George Marshall “Ma Hsia-er (馬下兒),” a contemptuous name that implied the general was the son of an indecent family.
As a five-star general, Marshall was first sent by then-US president Harry Truman in 1945 to broker a proposed coalition government between the KMT and CCP. Chiang Kai-shek believed Marshall favored Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and that the KMT’s failure was linked to that.
When he learned of Marshall’s death from a stroke in 1959, Chiang Kai-shek wrote, “Ma Hsia-er just got the punishment he deserved.”
Chiang Kai-shek’s personality underwent a lot of changes during the last years of his life and his temper softened, Shao said, adding: “The only thing that did not change was his determination to ‘recover the Chinese mainland.’”