Hoover Acquires Personal Papers of Overseas Chinese Leader

Monday, September 26, 2011
The opening ceremony of the Chinese School in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
Image credit: 
Courtesy of Mr. Tony Chen
The opening ceremony of the Chinese School in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
Image credit: 
Courtesy of Mr. Tony Chen

The Hoover Institution Library and Archives have recently acquired the personal papers of Chen Jiaxian (Henry Chen), a Chinese Nationalist Party official in charge of overseas Chinese affairs in the Caribbean region and Latin America. Chen was born in 1900 in Honghualing, a small Hakka mountain village on the border between Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. After graduating from the Teachers’ College in Dongguan, Chen taught in south China and Borneo. In 1929, Chen joined the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) under Chiang Kai-shek, who had recently completed the Northern Expedition and reunified China. In 1935, Chen moved to Trinidad, where he established a seat for the Kuomintang Party’s diplomatic activities in the Caribbean region and Latin America. During World War II, Chen endeavored to obtain funds to support Nationalist China’s war effort against Japan.

Between 1946 to 1950, Chen was posted to various countries of the Caribbean and South America before residing in Bogota, Colombia in 1947 where he played a crucial role in post–World War II China’s connections with Latin America. Chen returned to Trinidad in 1950, serving as leader of the local Kuomintang Party and overseas Chinese community. In 1965, he moved to Canada, where he died in 1983.

The personal papers include correspondence between Chen and important Kuomintang Party officials regarding China’s diplomatic relations with the Caribbean region and Latin America, the Kuomintang’s policy toward overseas Chinese communities, and photos depicting Chen’s activities in Trinidad and Latin America.