LUNG Yingtai roundtable discussion, “Debates on War and Peace in Taiwan” (BUCSA Taiwan Forum, Tues Sept. 19, 2023)

Please register for this event by scanning the QR code in the lower right corner of the poster above, or by clicking this link


Here are several interesting background articles that you might want to read prior to this open roundtable discussion:

1. “The greatness of a great nation cannot come only from missiles”: Lung Yingtai on the Hong Kong Protests
by Lung Yingtai   10/01/2019 CURRENT EVENTS ESSAYS

Questions for consideration:

  • How do you anticipate the response of the official Chinese media?  What might be their main argument?
  • What would be the perception of Taiwanese individuals regarding this article?
  • What are the divisions among Hong Kong residents on this issue?


2. No matter what you say, I am against war. (A Facebook posting by Lung Yingtai)  Oct. 3, 2020

In June 1902, Austrian painter Klimt and French sculptor Rodin were having afternoon tea in Vienna.

The musician, who had once served as the royal pianist to Emperor William I of Germany, sat relaxedly in front of a piano, holding a cigar in his hand. Rodin approached him and said, “How about some Schubert for us?”

In the swirling smoke of the cigar, Schubert’s notes floated through the air.

As guest, Rodin leaned closer to Klimt”s ear and whispered, “There is an atmosphere I have never seen before; your melancholic and magnificent Beethoven murals, your temple-like exhibition halls…”

Rodin looked around in disbelief and continued, “And this garden, these beautiful lades, this music…the whole ambiance is filled with a joyful, childlike happiness…”

Finally, Rodin expressed his bewilderment, “But where does all this originate from?”

Klimt nodded and replied with just one word, “Austria.”

This was Vienna at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, an era woven together with accumulated civilization and intricate details. The premiere of an opera would be the topic eagerly discussed by the city’s janitors at the dinner table.

The “childlike happiness” strongly felt by Rodin was shattered within a few years when war broke out, destroying all the fine intricacies of civilization.

The book I’m currently reading is The Age of Insight: the Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present by Eric Kandel.

I put down the book to make a cup of coffee, but when I turned back, the book had already been occupied by my cat.

Such a small, peaceful moment—an innocent cat, reminiscent of a child, a torn sofa that the cat used as an oversized scratching post, and a book about science and art woven with countless details of human endeavors….Can it continue? Do I have the right to demand that it continue?

Can war be treated as a game and bargaining chip, a light topic joked about after a variety show?

What I see is the destruction of civilization.

No matter what you say, I am against war.


3. In Taiwan, Friends Are Starting to Turn Against Each Other. Guess essay by Lung Yingtai (New York Times,  April 18, 2023)

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you think the author exhibits bias towards China in the text?
  • What do you perceive is the primary message the author intends to convey through the writing?
  • If a Taiwanese individual were to disagree with her, what arguments might he or she present in response to the author’s viewpoints?


4. Anti-War Petition From Taiwan Academics ( June 8, 2023 (English version)

我們的反戰聲明:和平、反軍火、要自主、重氣候 (Chinese version)

Questions for consideration:

  • One significant counterargument to this statement is that the party under attack should not be the one expected to advocate for an “anti-war” stance; that responsibility should rest with the aggressor. What is your perspective on this?
  • Do you dis/agree with the statement?


About the Speaker: 

Lung Yingtai is a writer, literary critic and public intellectual. Lung not only has a large number of devoted readers in her native Taiwan, but her works also have great influence in the Chinese-language world in Singapore, Malaysia, China, and North America.
Lung entered public service as Taipei City Government’s first Minister of Culture in 1999 and served as Taiwan’s inaugural Minister of Culture from 2012-2014.
She is author of more than two dozen books, including essays, fiction, reportage, and literary criticism. Her 1985 book, The Wild Fire, created a major cultural stir for its honest and introspective look at the social and political problems facing contemporary Taiwan society.
Big River, Big Sea: Untold Stories of 1949, published in 2009, became a must-read in greater China despite that it has been banned in China.
She was Hung Leung Hao Ling Distinguished Fellow in Humanities at the University of Hong Kong from 2015-2020.
For an interesting conversation with Lung Yingtai about her recent work, see