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Sep 26, 2013 10:01 AM EDT

Stanford Seeks Court Help to Solve Ownership Claims of Chiang Diaries

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Stanford University has approached a federal court in San Jose, California to resolve competing ownership disputes with the descendants of late Chiang Kai-shek, former president of Republic of China (ROC).

The university officials are urging the court to settle some possession claims of personal diaries penned by two late Republic of China presidents - Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo. For almost nine years now, the university's Hoover Institution has preserved the diaries and even posted digital copies online for research and reference.

According to Want China Times, the issue of the ownership was challenged by several of the late Chiang Ching-kuo's grandchildren and other relatives in Taiwan ever since his daughter-in-law, Chiang Fang Chih-yi, formally agreed to a 50-year lease of the diaries to the Institution on January 10, 2005.

"We are incredibly grateful to the Chiang family, and the Hoover Institution's number one goal throughout has been to be a good custodian of the family's impressive and storied heritage. We have been working diligently with the family to reach an agreement," said Eric Wakin, director of library and archives at Hoover.

"Despite our many attempts, we have not been able to resolve the dispute and so are reluctantly turning to the Court for assistance," Wakin said. "It has been a great privilege for the Hoover Institution to be the home to the Chiang family material, and we sincerely hope that a resolution can be found soon."

Eryn Witcher, a spokesman for the Institution, said that the litigation has been brought in an attempt to find the rightful owner.

"We are reluctantly turning to a court for assistance," Witcher said. "Hoover is not advocating for one outcome or another; Hoover is simply looking for clarity so it can either return the materials to its proper owner(s), or continue to hold the materials for the proper owner(s)."

According to the university, the Institution has filed an interpleader action asking the court to determine the ownership interests of property with multiple claimants.

 'Plaintiff is ready, willing and able to return" the papers "to the person(s) or entity(ies) legally entitled to it or parts of it, but under the circumstances, plaintiff does not know and cannot determine to whom the" documents should be delivered,' according to the complaint quoted in Bloomberg.

The diaries of Chiang Kai-shek include details of his 22 year rule in mainland China and 26 years in Taiwan. On the hand, the diaries of his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, gives insight into his role as the nation's premier and president. Ching-kuo ruled Taiwan for 16 years. These diaries are critical to understanding twentieth-century history.

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