Taiwan bird group changes name, reveals BirdLife’s hawkish letters

26-Sep-2020 Intellasia | TaiwanNews | 6:02 AM Print This Post

After a big flap over refusing to kowtow to the demands of an international bird conservation group and follow the dictates of China, the Taiwan Wild Bird Federation on Thursday (September 24) announced its official name change, eliminating the word “China” from all of its English-language designations.

On its web page on Thursday, the group, formerly known as the Chinese Wild Bird Federation, announced that after meeting on September 19, its general assembly agreed to formally change its name to the Taiwan Wild Bird Federation (TWBF) while retaining the Chinese name (????????).

Last week, the TWBF announced it had left the international bird conservation organisation BirdLife International (BirdLife) after it ruffled feathers by refusing to cave to Beijing’s pressure to sign a document “formally committing to not promot[ing] or advocate[ing] the legitimacy of the Republic of China or the independence of Taiwan from China.”

In its statement announcing its official name change, it also issued several clarifications regarding its removal from BirdLife. It emphasized that organisations within BirdLife are doing important conservation work and that the TWBF’s ouster was brought about by the organisation’s CEO, supported by the organisation’s Global Council, and based on “incorrect political determinations.”

The Taiwanese group alleged that individual partner organisations were “neither consulted nor informed about this decision beforehand.” In response to accusations by the BirdLife CEO that TWBF was “unwilling to leave global politics at the door,” the organisation stressed that it has never taken political stances. It then claimed that in insisting that TWBF sign an “overly political declaration” and portraying the federation as a “risk,” Birdlife was demanding that it take a political stance.

The group then released written correspondence between BirdLife and TWBF revealing the pressure tactics it had used to try to persuade the Taiwanese association to conform to Beijing’s political agenda. In a letter dated December 9, 2019, BirdLife claimed to be following UN positions and protocols for countries regarding “Chinese Taiwan (Taiwan) as a territory of China.”

The BirdLife author then demanded that the TWBF remove “Republic of China” from its logo, website, and public documents, claiming that such usage contravenes the UN stance and is aligned with a “political position that does not support our charitable purposes.” On the second page of the letter, BirdLife claims the federation’s usage of “Republic of China” represents a “serious risk to BirdLife international.”

The letter then lists four demands, “all” of which must be met, including removing “Republic of China” or any expression adhering to independence. The author closed with the two-day deadline of December 9-11, 2019, to follow these orders.

In a response dated January 9, 2020, TWBF pointed out that birds know no borders and listed its many contributions to conservation since joining the organisation in 1994. The federation then stated that it would use the name Chinese Wild Bird Federation and change its Chinese name to (Chinese Bird Federation), thus removing any reference to the Republic of China.

BirdLife responded that although it did not agree with all of its points, it would raise the matter with its global council. After the meeting, it sent another letter listing even more demands, primarily still related to the removal of the “Republic of China.”

The TWBF also took issue with BirdLife’s assertion that it could share its correspondence with relevant governments, donors, and supporters, while the TWBF could not. BirdLife replied that the Taiwanese group could share its correspondence with its executive board and supervisory council.

In addition, BirdLife took issue with TWBF’s refusal to commit to not advocating or promoting “the independence of Chinese Taiwan from China or the legitimacy of the ‘Republic of China.’” The TWBF executive board sent a letter on June 23 saying it had shared the results of its working group meeting with the executive board and that name changes or its working relationship with BirdLife must go through a general assembly.

On September 7, BirdLife sent notice that it was removing the Taiwanese federation due to “risks” and its “promotion of a political position that is not consistent with the UN position on countries and territories.” On Friday (September 25), TWBF uploaded its new logo to its Facebook page, featuring a Taiwan blue pheasant and the name “Taiwan Wild Bird Federation.”



Category: Taiwan

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