Taiwan’s Bird Conservation Group Expelled From BirdLife International

Taiwan’s Bird Conservation Group Expelled From BirdLife International
What you need to know

Taiwan's Chinese Wild Bird Federation declined demands to change its name and sign a statement "not to promote or advocate for Taiwan independence."

In Taiwan’s resistance to China’s political coercion, even bird conservation groups cannot escape the pressure. In the 20 years since joining BirdLife International, Taiwan’s Chinese Wild Bird Federation (CWBF) has been asked to change its English name three times. Recently, the Cambridge-based organization demanded the CWBF to change its Chinese name and sign a statement agreeing “not to promote or advocate for Taiwan independence.” 

After the CWBF declined these demands, the group was expelled from BirdLife International.

CWBF: We’re a conservation organization, not a political tool 

Established in 1988, the CWBF consists of 21 local bird and ecological conservation groups. The CWBF dedicates its efforts to executing conservation projects and facilitating discussions between environmental groups, academia, and the government. 

孵化燕鷗持續回歸 馬祖盼產出下一代神話之鳥
Photo Credit: CNA
The Chinese Crested Tern, a critically endangered species with a colony in the Matsu Islands. 

The CWBF’s work includes managing a database of birds in Taiwan, drawing up a directory of birds, and running international outreach programs. The Conservation Education Center, operated under the Executive Yuan’s Council of Agriculture, has been a partner in collaborative research, establishing the foundational information on Taiwan’s bird ecology and conservation. 

CWBF said on Facebook that as an apolitical organization, it has never established any stance on Taiwan’s sovereignty. It is therefore “inappropriate” to sign the agreement proposed by BirdLife International. 

BirdLife International has also said that it will not participate in any events funded by the Taiwanese government, according to CWBF, as it would be “odd” for BirdLife to distance itself from the “independence” agenda of the Republic of China while continuing to benefit from the government’s financial assistance. 

CWBF’s vice-secretary Allen Lyu told CNA that the group has already informed its international allies and will be announcing its counter-strategy on September 23. Lyu said that the CWBF has had a long relationship with conservation groups in Japan, and plans to continue its work with groups in Europe and the United States. 

The CWBF reiterated that birds know no borders, and that conservation work requires a global network. The group will continue its work despite being excluded from BirdLife International. 

Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau has also been a long-term partner of Birdlife International. Local efforts in conserving the black-faced spoonbill, an endangered species, have earned Taiwan the Conservation Achievement Awards from the organization. 

The expulsion of the CWBF is already reflected on BirdLife International’s official webpage — the link for “Chinese Taiwan” is dead. However, evidence of the CWBF’s past participation in initiatives can still be accessed, for example, in the United Nations program  “A healthy planet should be a universal right.”


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TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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