Taipei, Taiwan’s largest bird conservation organization announced on Friday that it had dropped the word “Chinese” from its English name in favor of “Taiwan,” just days after it was expelled from an international consortium for refusing to sign to a document related to Taiwan’s political status.
In a statement posted on its website, the group said it had passed a motion at its annual general assembly on Sept. 19 to change its English name from “Chinese Wild Bird Federation” to “Taiwan Wild Bird Federation” (TWBF), adding that the name change would help it “avoid international confusion” and expand ties with other conservation groups.
The move came after the group revealed on Sept. 15 that BirdLife International had revoked its status as a partner for refusing to sign a document committing to not advocate the legitimacy of the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan’s formal name) or promote Taiwan’s independence from China. It also objected to the group’s Chinese name, which refers to the ROC.
In response to the demands, the TWBF said it had expressed openness to changing its name, as it had previously done three times at the behest of BirdLife, but was not given sufficient time.
However, the TWBF said that it had refused to sign the political declaration, on the grounds that complying would be “inappropriate” for an “apolitical conservation organization.”
Following the incident, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) blamed the Chinese government for the group’s removal, condemning what it called “interference and suppression in the completely apolitical field of conservation.”
The U.K.-based BirdLife International, meanwhile, has made no public comment on the issue, and asked its employees to refer all media queries on the subject to its CEO, according to a Reuters report.
In its statement on Friday, the TWBF published letters from BirdLife dating back to December 2019, which it said was necessary to prove it had maintained an apolitical stance throughout the negotiations with BirdLife.
In the letters, BirdLife repeatedly insists that the group change its name and sign the political pledge, citing its commitment to following United Nations positions which serve as a “necessary operating baseline” for its conservation activities.
In the final letter, dated Sept. 7, Birdlife informs the TWFB of its removal “in relation to (the TWBF’s) presentation and promotion of a political position that is not consistent with the UN position on countries and territories.”
“We are saddened it has become necessary to release this correspondence,” TWBF spokesman Scott Pursner told CNA.
“However, it was the only way to address the false allegations raised as the reason behind our removal. The letters show that we always negotiated in good faith, even offering to discuss the name change, but that wasn’t enough,” he said.
Despite its removal, the TWBF said it will continue working with “all organizations and partners who share our conservation goals.”
China sees Taiwan as part of its territory and opposes any official contacts by governments, international organizations or companies which are seen to elevate Taiwan’s status as an independent nation.
The U.N.’s 1971 move to shift its recognition from the ROC government in Taipei to the People’s Republic of China in Beijing has often served as the legal basis of China’s pressure in this regard.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel