Stanford University on Tuesday said it has turned to a US court to help resolve a dispute over the ownership of diaries penned by former presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), which it is currently in possession of.
The university has had the diaries for years and has put digital copies online for research and reference purposes.
However, the school’s possession has been called into question by several of Chiang Ching-kuo’s surviving relatives after his daughter-in-law Chiang Fang Chih-yi (蔣方智怡) signed an agreement to release the diaries to the Hoover Institution for 50 years on Jan. 10, 2005.
In November 2010, Chiang Ching-kuo’s granddaughter, Chiang You-mei (蔣友梅) demanded the terms of Stanford’s 50-year lease be renegotiated, asking for support in her cause from the deal’s original signee, Chiang Fang Chih-yi, and other descendants of the former Republic of China (ROC) leaders.
Stanford filed a complaint with a federal court in San Jose, California, after its representatives were unable to resolve the matter after meeting with claimants in Taiwan in April, sources say.
The litigation is aimed at determining the rightful owner or owners of the diaries and is not an attempt to keep them in the university’s possession, Stanford has said.
A report by Bloomberg News on Tuesday quoted the complaint, which details Stanford’s willingness to return the papers to “the person(s) or entity(ies) legally entitled,” which it cannot do because it “does not know and cannot determine” who those people or entities are.
Hoover Institution spokesman Eryn Witcher said that the school wants to clarify who has the legal rights to the documents so they can be returned to their rightful owner, Bloomberg reported.
Media reports in Taiwan have said that the diaries span the length of Chiang Kai-shek’s leadership over the ROC, detailing his life from 1918 through 1975, the year of his death.
Some of the events reportedly covered in the journals include Japan’s invasion of China in the 1930s, the Chinese Civil War between Chiang Kai-shek’s government in China and communist forces; and the ROC government’s eventual retreat to Taiwan.