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Chiang Kai-shek Diaries

Chiang Kai-shek Diaries
Chiang Kai-shek.

The Hoover Institution has been helping preserve the handwritten diaries of Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo since Chiang family members deposited them at Hoover in 2005. Those diaries of the former presidents of the Republic of China are on deposit at the Hoover Institution pending the creation of a suitable repository on Chinese territory. Members of the Chiang family are systematically screening the diaries at Hoover so that they can be made available for research; the remainder of the diaries will be opened sequentially during the next few years.

To ensure their preservation, and to conform to the wishes of family members, use copies of the handwritten pages will be available at the Hoover Archives. The copies reflect the fragility and poor condition of the originals, with some pages water damaged, stuck together, or missing entirely. In addition, some sentences were crossed out in ink on the originals.

Given the uninhibited nature of many personal comments in the diaries, family members have chosen to keep some passages private and have thus redacted these from the use copies. Although in most cases the individuals named are deceased, family members wish to protect the feelings of living descendants or other relatives. Recognizing the historical significance of the diaries in their entirety, however, family members have authorized that the redacted passages be released in 2035.

An inventory of the Chiang Kai-shek diaries is available (Online Archive of California or PDF).

Earliest Diaries, 1917–1931

In the period covered by these diaries, Chiang Kai-shek rose to the leadership of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party). After training in the Japanese army from 1909 to 1911, Chiang participated in the revolutionary struggles that established the Chinese Republic and began his association with Sun Yat-sen in the Kuomintang. Chiang founded the Whampoa Military Academy, where the Kuomintang army was trained, in 1924. After Sun's death in 1925, Chiang rose to power by leading the Kuomintang army to defeat the northern warlords and unify China. Chiang split with the leftists of his party in 1927 and spent the rest of his life struggling against the Communists.

World War II Diaries, 1932–1945

A few months after the diaries begin in January 1932, Chiang became chief of the General Staff and chairman of the National Military Council. China at that time was a battleground for warlords, Nationalists, Communists, and Japanese invaders. Chiang focused on eliminating the Chinese Communists, who retreated on the Long March into the remote northwest. On December 12, 1936, Chiang was kidnapped at Xi'an by a Manchurian warlord, the young marshal Zhang Xueliang. After agreeing to work with the Communists to fight the Japanese, Chiang was released. Of course, the diaries also cover the period of the Second Sino-Japanese War, from 1937 to 1945, and Chiang's relationship with such allies as U.S. Army generals Claire Chennault and Joseph Stilwell. This segment of diaries ends in 1945, when U.S. ambassador Patrick Hurley, followed by General George C. Marshall, tried unsuccessfully to bridge differences between Chiang's government and the Communists.

Postwar Diaries, 1946–1955

As this group of diaries opens (in 1946), control of China teetered between Nationalists and Communists as their civil war resumed. Chiang led the Nationalist government and its army, which gradually lost territory in the north to the Communists, led by Mao Zedong. As civil war worsened and the United States suspended aid to Chiang, the Nationalist government battled severe inflation that threatened financial chaos. Chiang declared a series of financial and economic emergency measures in August 1948 that were ultimately unsuccessful. Five months later, in January 1949, Chiang resigned as president of the Republic of China but continued as leader of the Nationalist Party. With a strong military push by the Chinese People's Liberation Army beginning in the spring, the Nationalist forces retreated in December 1949 to Taiwan, where Chiang established a stronghold for his party. Resuming his position as president in March 1950, he was reelected by the National Assembly in 1954. Having lamented in his diary about the disintegration and rot from within that led to his party's failure, Chiang established the Central Reform Committee in 1950 to revitalize the party and its principles, reestablish the state in a new milieu, advance his vision for China and Taiwan, and begin laying the groundwork for Taiwan's eventual economic success.

Final Diaries, 1956–1972

This group of diaries takes up when Chiang began implementing comprehensive reforms in Taiwan in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time he made land available to farmers at affordable prices and provided state support to industries to nurture their international competitiveness. As inflation began dropping steadily and the economy grew, Chiang was reelected president by the National Assembly in 1960, 1966, and 1972. The United States, a strong ally since the Korean War, provided aid and trade and encouraged reform. In the last year of Chiang's diaries, President Nixon visited China, the announcement of which triggered a U.N. vote giving the People's Republic of China a seat in the United Nations, effectively expelling Taiwan. Anti-U.S. riots then erupted on the island. When Chiang died in 1975, Taiwan had achieved substantial urban and economic growth while remaining a one-party state controlled by the Kuomintang. Chiang's son, Chiang Ching-kuo, assumed party leadership and within a few years became president.

Current state of Diaries 2014-present

The Hoover Institution at Stanford University, for almost nine years, has had on deposit extraordinary archival material, including diaries and other papers, from Chiang Kai-shek, and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo. The Hoover Institution has provided access to redacted copies of the Chiang Kai-shek diaries in our reading room, and the collection has become one of the most popular in the archives, being viewed by hundreds of people from around the world each year.  Hoover’s goal is to provide as much of the material as possible for scholarly study. 

Having received conflicting claims of ownership to the materials, on September 24th, 2013, the Hoover Institution announced that it was seeking clarity on the ownership of the Chiang family diaries and papers on deposit at the Hoover Institution. The Hoover Institution is looking for legal clarity so it can either return the materials to the proper owner(s) or continue to hold the materials for the proper owner(s), and is not advocating for one outcome over another.

The Institution has recently learned that the Academia Historica (the Republic of China's highest-level organization concerned with affairs related to the nation's history in Taiwan) claims to have  an interest in the deposit. Consequently, as we seek to discover the rightful owners and appropriate treatment of the deposit, the Academia Historica, as an agency or instrumentality of the Republic of China, has been added to the interpleader action, which enlists assistance from the court to determine ownership of the deposit. In its continuing efforts to work with those with any legitimate claim to the deposited materials, the Hoover Institution has reached out to all of the defendants, including the Republic of China, to let them know about the action before the filing.

It has been a privilege for the Hoover Institution to be a home to the deposited materials.  It is our hope that a resolution can be found soon. For further information regarding this case, please see: