Stanford University is hanging on to diaries of former Chinese Nationalist Party leader Chiang Kai-shek while it asks a federal court to protect it from lawsuits among squabbling descendants over who has rights to the material.
Stanford’s Hoover Institution received the papers on loan in 2004 from the daughter-in-law of Chiang Kai-shed’s son. Ever since relatives have made competing ownership claims to the 51 boxes of materials.
Last week, Stanford’s board of trustees filed a federal suit naming 10 relatives, asking the court block them from filing any lawsuits against the school. It argues the relatives must work out the dispute themselves first.
Chiang was head of the Kuomintang party that fought against the communists and Mao Zedong. In 1949, the Kuomintang, facing defeat, fled to the island of Taiwan and set up a government. The Chinese government still considers Taiwan a province that must be reunited with China.
Chiang died in 1975.
The Hoover Institution contains archives and private papers of former national leaders in its East Asia Collection. Among them are former national leaders, public officials and military leaders from Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and other parts of East Asian, according to the lawsuit.
The collection includes the world’s largest collection from the Chinese Nationalist Party and its leaders.
Chiang’s diaries date from at least 1917 to 1972, the suit states. His son, Chiang Ching-kuo, created personal diaries from 1937 to 1979.
Stanford said it was unable to substantiate the validity of each competing claim for the material, despite spending “hundreds of hours attempting to resolve the dispute amongst the defendants.”
The school said it is willing to return the materials but does not know who should get them.
It has asked the court to decide.
Case: StanfordUniversity v. Chian Fang Chi-yi, No. 13-4383HRL