Preview of Chiang Ching-kuo diaries held at Stanford University

12/18/2019 07:00 PM
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San Francisco, Dec. 17 (CNA) Stanford University's Hoover Institution on Tuesday offered a glimpse of the personal diaries of former Republic of China President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), which will be open for public viewing beginning in February 2020.

Lin Hsiao-ting (林孝庭), curator of East Asia Collections at Hoover Institution Library and Archives, said Chiang's diaries show he focused on Taiwan's political and economic development in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in sharp contrast to his father Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

Based on the elder Chiang's diaries, his heart was always with mainland China, and he was mostly interested in retaking the mainland, Lin said.

The Chiang Ching-kuo diaries in the Hoover Institution's collection cover the period from May 1937 to December 1979 and offer insight into Chiang's life from the time he returned to China from Soviet Russia and his move to Taiwan.

Pages of Chiang Ching-kuo
Pages of Chiang Ching-kuo's diaries from December 1976, courtesy of the Hoover Institution

The diaries of the year 1948 were lost, while the entries written between 1937 to 1940 and 1945 to 1949 are transcripts, and the rest are handwritten originals, according to Lin.

Chiang, who served as Taiwan's president from 1978 until his death in 1988, stopped keeping a diary in 1979 for reasons that are not known, Lin said, but he speculated that health problems may have been the reason, because Chiang underwent prostate surgery that year.

During Tuesday's preview, a selection of the copied and original Chiang Ching-kuo diaries were made available that focused mostly on his participation in major decision-making process in Taiwan after 1949.

Pages of Chiang Ching-kuo
Pages of Chiang Ching-kuo's diaries from August 1970, courtesy of the Hoover Institution

Among the most notable entries was his reaction after he was told in the early hours of the morning on Dec. 16, 1978 by U.S. Ambassador Leonard Unger that the United States was severing ties with Taipei.

It was a hard blow for Chiang, who wrote: "(I'm) in agony. While shouldering heavy responsibilities, (I) should handle it rationally and calm people down first."

He also wrote that he thought that Taiwan's "strength" and "morality and sense of justice" would serve as the core of the country's diplomacy thereafter.

Pages of Chiang Ching-kuo
Pages of Chiang Ching-kuo's diaries from June 1975, courtesy of the Hoover Institution

According to entries written on Jan. 18, 1970, Chiang said the best policy for Taiwan was developing the economy, and he wanted to work for the well-being of the people.

The diaries will be available for public viewing in their entirety at the Hoover Archives' Reading Room, which will open in February next year.

They will also complement the collection of diaries covering the years 1915 to 1972 left behind by his father, who led China from 1928 to 1949 and then ruled Taiwan after his Kuomintang lost China's Civil War to the communists in 1949 until his death in 1975.

The elder Chiang's diaries were made public by the institution in 2006, and have since been the most requested collection in the Hoover Institution's possession.

Pages of Chiang Kai-shek
Pages of Chiang Kai-shek's diary on display at the Hoover Institution

The Hoover Institution has held the diaries of the Chiangs since 2005, when Chiang Ching-kuo's daughter-in-law Chiang Fang Chih-yi (蔣方智怡) signed a 50-year agreement for the documents 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 to determine the diaries' ownership are still under way, all parties involved in the matter last summer agreed to make them public to facilitate academic research.

Among those present at Tuesday's ceremony were U.S. experts on Taiwan, including former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, who turned 99 earlier this month.

Also present were Steven M. Goldstein, director of the Taiwan Studies Workshop at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University; Thomas B. Gold, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley; and John F. Copper, the Stanley J. Buckman distinguished professor of international studies (emeritus) at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

Steven Goldstein (right), Thomas Gold (center) and John F. Copper (left) at the ceremony
Steven Goldstein (right), Thomas Gold (center) and John F. Copper (left) at the ceremony

(By Chou Shih-hui, Chiang Yi-ching and Evelyn Kao)

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