Is It Illegal to Auction off Qian Zhongshu and Yang Jiang’s Letter Manuscripts?

(By You Yunting) Recently, we noticed that a Beijing-based auction company was interested in selling letters and manuscripts, including those from the couple Mr. Qian Zhongshu and Ms. Yang Jiang (it should be noted both Mr. Qian and Ms. Yang are noted scholars in China). In addition, we have also seen letters from their daughter Ms. Qianyuan to Li Guoqiang, the chief editor of Hong Kong based magazine Guang Jiao Jing, and a manuscript of Mr. Qian’s work. In the meantime, some of the letters’ content has been disclosed to the media; in fact, following these disclosures there was apparent dissatisfaction from Mr. Qian’s widow, Yang Jiang, alleging that these public disclosures were in fact a violation of one’s private communication, and any public disclosure, by the media or otherwise, would be considered improper.