Taiwanese bird group blames political pressure from Beijing for ejection from global network
- Chinese Wild Bird Federation ousted from BirdLife International after refusing to sign a statement saying it would never advocate for Taiwan’s independence from mainland China
- It is ‘very sad that practical cross-strait relationships – focused purely on conservation – will be damaged by this geopolitical bullying’, British bird guide working in Taiwan says
A Taiwanese bird protection group says it has been kicked out of BirdLife International – a global conservation partnership – after refusing to sign a statement saying it would never advocate for the island’s independence from China.
The Taipei-based Chinese Wild Bird Federation (CWBF) said BirdLife International voted last week to remove it, ending a partnership that had been in place since 1996.
CWBF said it was told that its Chinese name, which contains Taiwan’s official title the Republic of China, “posed a risk” to BirdLife, which is based in Britain.
The group, which had previously changed its English name to satisfy BirdLife, said it had been willing to accommodate further amendments, but was told to sign a document “formally committing to not promote or advocate the legitimacy of the Republic of China or the independence of Taiwan from China”.
CWBF said it had no stance on the matter, but that signing such a document would itself be a political act.
“Our removal … seems to be an example of politics getting in the way of good conservation,” CWBF said in a statement.
BirdLife did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.
Britain’s Telegraph newspaper quoted a BirdLife representative as saying it would be “inappropriate for us to comment publicly on matters relating to, and interactions with, partner organisations”.
Richard Foster, a British freelance bird guide working in Taiwan, said he feared other international charity networks might come under similar pressure to eject their Taiwanese partners.
“It is very sad that practical, out of the limelight, cross-strait relationships – focused purely on conservation – will be damaged by this geopolitical bullying,” he said.